42 Syrian soldiers dead in reported Israeli strike, opposition group says

A photo released by the Syrian Arab News Agency shows destruction from what is said was bomb attack in the Al-Hama area of Damascus on Sunday, May 5. According to the Syrian government, Israel launched an attack on a research center in the Damascus suburbs early Sunday. Tensions in Syria first flared in March 2011 during the onset of the Arab Spring, eventually escalating into a civil war that still rages. This gallery contains the most compelling images taken since the start of the conflict.Concern over the possibility of broader war in the Middle East grew Monday in the wake of reported airstrikes on Syrian military installations.
The reported strikes killed 42 Syrian soldiers, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday, citing medical sources. It said 100 people remained missing.
The Syrian government warned Sunday's apparent strikes -- which followed one last week attributed by Syria to Israel -- "opens the door wide for all the possibilities."
Syrian ally Iran warned of a "crushing response" while Russia called reports of Israeli involvement "very worrying."
But an Israeli general who commands forces on the Syrian border said "there are no winds of war," according to the Israel Defense Forces website.
The heightened tensions come amid questions over possible chemical weapon use in Syria and international debate over how to respond to the country's bloody civil war, in which more than 70,000 people have died in more than two years of fighting.
On Monday, a U.N. official spoke of strong suspicions that rebels, not Syrian government forces, have used chemical weapons.Cleaning takes place following another explosion in an upscale Damascus neightborhood on Monday, April 29. Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi survived the bombing targeting his motorcade.
Details of reported strikes
Syria claimed Israeli missiles struck at its military facilities on Sunday.
According to the state-run SANA news agency, Israeli missiles struck a research center in Jamayra, a facility in Maysaloun and what the news agency described as a "paragliding airport" near Damascus.
The blasts prompted terrified residents nearby to run for cover.
"Everything kept exploding over and over again," said Anna Deeb, whose family lives just over a mile away. "We could hear gunshots, we could hear people screaming. ... We didn't know what to do, and there was a problem with us breathing because the smoke was too much."
Syria says the attack followed another Israeli airstrike late last week.
Israel has not confirmed or denied that its forces were involved in any attacks inside Syria, but a U.S. official told CNN's Barbara Starr on Monday that Israeli forces conducted Sunday's strike, as well as one last week.
Sunday's strike targeted a research facility in a mountainous area near Damascus and weapons that were to be transferred to Hezbollah, according to the source.
The earlier strike, which U.S. officials had previously said happened Thursday or Friday, targeted Fateh 110 missiles stored at the Damascus airport, the source said.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad told CNN the attacks amount to a declaration of war by Israel.
"The details are not clear on what happened," al-Mekdad told CNN. "Did they fire missiles? ... It is not clear for me, because I don't know how it happened, and of course it is worrying, but Israel will suffer the same."


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