BEIRUT (Reuters) – Israeli jets devastated Syrian targets near Damascus on Sunday in a heavy overnight air raid that Western and Israeli officials called a new strike on Iranian missiles bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
As Syria’s two-year-old civil war veered into the potentially atomic arena of Iran’s confrontation with Israel and the West over its nuclear program, people were woken in the Syrian capital by explosions that shook the ground like an earthquake and sent pillars of flame high into the night sky.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned against escalating a fraught situation in Syria after Israel struck targets near Damascus on Sunday, targeting what its officials said were Iranian missiles bound for Hezbollah militants.
Israeli officials said the raid, the second in 48 hours, was not connected to Syria’s civil war. It was aimed, rather, at stopping Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, acquiring weapons that could be used to strike Tel Aviv if Israel followed through on threats to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Powerful explosions struck the outskirts of Damascus early on Sunday, sending columns of fire into the night sky, and Syrian state television said Israeli rockets had struck a military facility just north of the capital.
Israel declined to comment on the attack, but the blasts occurred a day after an Israeli official said his country had carried out an air strike targeting a consignment of missiles in Syria intended for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s prime minister survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus on Monday, as rebels struck in the heart of President Bashar al-Assad’s capital.
Six people were killed in the blast, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Previous rebel attacks on government targets included a December bombing which wounded Assad’s interior minister.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus on Monday, state media and activists said, as rebels struck in the heart of President Bashar al-Assad’s capital.
The explosion shook the Mezze neighborhood shortly after 9 a.m. (2 a.m. ET), sending a plume of thick black smoke into the sky, Internet footage posted by opposition activists showed.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria accused international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Wednesday of bias and interference after he criticized its response to an opposition offer of talks and suggested Bashar al-Assad should not stand again for president.
Brahimi told a closed-door session of the United Nations Security Council last Friday that Damascus was “surprised and embarrassed” by a January offer of talks from opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib, and its response was “slow and confused”.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Stripped to the waist, his face heavily bruised and a rope around his neck, the grey-haired Syrian man was led by his captors on a humiliating parade through the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
“I am an Alawite shabbiha,” read slogans daubed on the bare chest of the man, referring to militias from a minority sect fighting for President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria. Vigilantes led the man through Tripoli, a predominantly Sunni Muslim city, on Monday.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Two prominent Syrian bishops, who had warned of the threat to religious tolerance and diversity from the two-year conflict in their country, were kidnapped on Monday by armed rebels in the northern province of Aleppo, state media said.
SANA news agency said the Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, were seized by “a terrorist group” in the village of Kfar Dael as they were “carrying out humanitarian work”.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Bashar al-Assad accused the West on Wednesday of supporting al Qaeda militants in Syria’s civil war and warned they would turn against their backers and strike “in the heart of Europe and the United States”.
Assad also launched his strongest criticism yet of neighboring Jordan for allowing thousands of fighters to cross the border to join a conflict he insisted his forces would win and save Syria from destruction.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s political turmoil will not slow its oil and gas exploration plans for now, Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said, a week before he is due to announce which companies have pre-qualified in its first licensing round.
Fifty-two firms submitted bids last month to explore Lebanon’s offshore Mediterranean waters, including ExxonMobil, Repsol, China National Offshore Oil Company and Royal Dutch Shell.