American TIME magazine reported Friday evening that Israeli warplanes struck several targets inside Syria
in an alleged raid
Tuesday night, including a biological weapons research center that was reportedly flattened out of concern that it might fall into the hands of Islamist extremists fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The report is based on comments made by Western intelligence officials.
TIME explained that only two airstrikes had been publicly reported, amid a flurry of conflicting initial reports: Syria officially complained of the destruction of the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Jamarya, northwest of Damascus, and a variety of news organizations reported that Israeli jets hit a convoy carrying advanced anti-aircraft defense systems toward Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, presumably for delivery to Hezbollah.
"A Western intelligence official indicated to TIME that at least one to two additional targets were hit the same night, without offering details. Officials also said that Israel
had a 'green light' from Washington to launch yet more such strikes."
The American magazine stressed that "Hezbollah is not Israel’s only concern – or perhaps even the most worrying. Details of the Israeli strikes make clear the risk posed by fundamentalist militants sprinkled among the variegated rebel forces fighting to depose Assad."
According to TIME, among the buildings leveled at the military complex at Jamarya, outside Damascus, were warehouses stocked with equipment necessary for the deployment of chemical and biological weapons," relatively complicated systems typically manned by specially trained forces."
The magazine also reported that lab facilities dedicated to biological warfare were of special concern, given both the damage that could be done by even small amounts of biological agents, and the interest expressed in such weapons by Osama bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
One Western intelligence official told TIME the US military was poised to carry out similar airstrikes around Aleppo if rebels threaten to take sites associated with weapons of mass destruction in that region, the magazine said.
Earlier Friday, Lebanon's official news agency reported that Israeli warplanes
had been flying over Nabatieh, al-Tufah, Marjayoun and Bint Jbeil in the south of the country since 9:30 pm.
According to the report, the planes were conducting "mock raids" over Lebanon.
A Lebanese website reported Friday morning that Israeli warplanes were flying over the areas of Marjayoun, Hasbia and Rashaya al-Wadi in southern Lebanon, as well as over the Shebaa area and Mount Hermon.
The website also reported that the Israel Defense Forces was patrolling the border fence area along the Blue Line.