Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes against a purported chemical weapons manufacturing facility in western Syria, just hours after a new United Nations report blamed the regime for a chemical attack last April.
According to media reports early on Thursday, the strikes hit the Al-Tala’i facility near the city of Hama, used by the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre to manufacture chemical weapons.
The Syrian Army confirmed its post near Masyaf was attacked, saying Israeli jets fired rockets from Lebanese airspace just after 2:30 a.m. local time. In a statement reported by the Syrian Arab News Agency, the Syrian military said “two army personnel” were killed in the attack and the facility was damaged.
Photos circulating on social media purport to show the facility on fire following the bombing.
BREAKING: Israeli air force bombs large chemical weapons manufacturing plant overnight in Syria near Hama, injuries reported – PHOTOS. pic.twitter.com/1brdHrL3RJ
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) September 7, 2017
The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre is the government agency believed responsible for the research and development of chemical, ballistic and conventional weapons.
The strikes come less than a day after a U.N. investigation found that the Syrian military used chemical weapons against civilians in a widely-reported incident earlier this year. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria report released on Wednesday noted that the Syrian air force used sarin in the April 4 attack in Khan Sheikhoun that killed at least 80 people. The Syrian government has denied using chemical weapons against civilians.
Amos Yadlin, the executive director of the Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies, said in a series of tweets that the attack was intended to send a message that Israel would enforce its own red lines, particuarly against the “empowerment and production of strategic arms.” Israel did not issue a statement, and rarely acknowledges airstrikes carried out in Syria.