Image indicates Syria building unscathed by Israel strike

JERUSALEM Thu Feb 7, 2013 4:04am IST

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A research centre that Syria said had been hit by an Israeli air strike last week appears to have remained unscathed in the attack, according to satellite images broadcast by Israeli television on Wednesday.

Diplomats, Syrian rebels and security sources said Israeli jets had bombed a convoy near the Lebanese border last week, apparently hitting weapons destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006.

Syria denied the assertions, saying the target was the Jamraya military research complex on the northwestern fringes of Damascus, 8 miles (13 km) from the border.

Some of the diplomats and security sources said the apparently contradictory accounts might refer to the same incident, given Jamraya's proximity to the border.

Israel's Channel 2 News broadcast what it said were satellite images of the complex, taken eight months before the attack and a few days after it.

The latter showed an apparently unscathed building, which Channel 2 said was the research centre, next to a scorched and blackened road and parking lot, where it said the arms convoy was hit.

Channel 2 said the second image had been taken by DigitalGlobe, a public company based in the United States. A spokesperson for DigitalGlobe contacted by Reuters confirmed the authenticity of the image and said it had been taken on February 4.

Syrian television had broadcast what it said was footage from the Jamraya base showing extensive damage to buildings and several heavy military vehicles that appeared capable of carrying missiles.

At least one vehicle, with light desert khaki markings, was equipped with what looked like a satellite dish.

Several burnt-out cars and lorries, including one with a large hole smashed through the roof of the driver's cabin, could also be seen in the footage, as well as the badly damaged interior of an office.

Israel has maintained official silence last week's raid, but on Sunday Defence Minister Ehud Barak appeared to acknowledge that Israel had carried out the strike.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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