Despite the tension along Israel's northern border following two reported strikes in Syria over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left on Sunday as planned for a five-day tour in China, in effort to send a calming message to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Without confirming foreign reports saying Israel was behind both attacks, on Friday and Sunday, American officials said Monday morning that the U.S. received no early warning of the strikes. The New York Times quoted a Syrian official who claimed that the strike hit an elite military unit. A Syrian doctor told the paper that at least 100 soldiers were killed in the attack.
According to Sunday's reports, the targets of both strikes were shipments of Iranian Fateh-100 missile en route to Lebanon's Hezbollah. These missiles are said to be extremely accurate, with a range of up to 300 kilometers. One of the targets in Sunday's attack was a site in Jamariyz, which was also hit in January.
Following the reports of a second strike, tensions increased along Israel's northern border. Though Israeli authorities refused to comment on the attacks, the Israel Defense Forces deployed two Iron Dome batteries along the Lebanon border and the northern skies were closed to civilian flights.
8:20 P.M. Lebanon has called on the UN Security Council to condemn violations of its air space by Israel in Syria, urging the 15-member council to "compel Israel to halt its violations of Lebanon's sovereignty by air, sea and land, and carry out all its obligations in accordance with resolution 1701," according to Lebanon's letter sent to the UN on Monday. (Reuters)
7:15 P.M. 30 demonstrators gather in Nazareth for protest in support of Syrian people. Two demonstrators arrested for waving Syrian flags.
6:32 P.M. Israel launches complaint with United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) over mortar shells fired from Syria. (Haaretz)
5:51 P.M. Two mortar shells land in Golan Heights near border fence, in an apparent errant launch from Syria. No casualties reported. (Haaretz)
5:03 P.M. Haifa airport reopens after day of closure due to security situation with Syria. Commercial flights to resume on Tuesday. (Haaretz)
4:39 P.M. Turkey launches a 10-day military exercise at Incirlik, a NATO air base near the border with Syria in the Adana province, where U.S. troops are also stationed. The exercise will test the military's readiness for battle and coordination with government ministries, the general staff said in a statement. (Reuters).
4:32 P.M. Anti-regime activists say Israel's weekend air strike on the military complex near Damascus killed at least 42 Syrian soldiers, citing information from military hospitals. The Syrian government has not released a death toll, but Syrian state media have reported casualties in Sunday's pre-dawn airstrike. (AP)
3:29 P.M. Syrian rebels denied they were using chemical weapons, after a UN investigator said there were suspicions based upon interviews with victims that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin. "We do not have sarin gas and we do not aim to bring it under our control," Luai al-Mekdad, spokesman for the Free Syrian Army said. (DPA)
2:40 P.M. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged both sides in Syria's civil war on Monday to allow swift evacuation of the dead and wounded, many of them civilians, who often lie abandoned for days or months in intense
The ICRC reminded the government and the rebels that international humanitarian law requires bodies to be removed promptly and respectfully, and the injured to be evacuated for treatment.(Reuters)
12:32 P.M. Russia said on Monday it was concerned the chances of foreign military intervention in Syria were growing following reports of Israeli airstrikes around Damascus which were a source of "particular alarm". "We are seriously concerned by the signs of preparation of global public opinion for possible armed intervention in the long-running internal conflict in Syria," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. (Reuters)
12:04 P.M. China issues veiled criticism of Israel over military strike in Syria as Netanyahu begins a five-day visit in the country. "We oppose the use of military force and believe any country's sovereignty should be respected," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing. "China also calls on all relevant parties to begin from the basis of protecting regional peace and stability, maintain restraint and avoid taking any actions that would escalate tensions and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability," Hua said. (Reuters)
11:30 A.M. Northern Command chief Maj. Gen. Yair Golan says there is no fear of war breaking out in Syria. Golan, who spoke during a Golani Brigade event, said that "it is always right to prepare and train, but there are no winds of war" along Israel's northern border. (Haaretz)
9:01 A.M. Rebels claim to have shot down an army helicopter in eastern Syria. (Reuters)
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