The Syrian government’s version of events clearly placed the attack in Syria.
In a statement carried by SANA, the country’s general command said Israeli aircraft had escaped radar detection by flying low over the Golan Heights, the high ground that Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and annexed in 1981.
The SANA report suggested that the bombed research center had a military purpose, saying it was “responsible for raising the levels of resistance and self-defense” in the area.
The report also attempted to link the Israeli attack to the government’s battle with rebel groups that are fighting to topple the government of President Bashar Assad and said those groups were undermining Syria’s “support for the resistance and just rights,” a reference to the long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The statement added that several "terrorist groups" had made failed attempts to take control of the same site in recent months.
“The General Command said that it has become clear to everyone that Israel is the motivator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts which target Syria and its resistant people,” SANA said.
The Syrian government has consistently blamed outside forces for the 22-month uprising, which has claimed an estimated 60,000 lives, and it wasn’t surprising that the Assad regime would try to link the rebel groups it’s facing to the long-hated Israeli enemy.
“This blatant aggression adds up to Israel’s long history of aggression and crime against Arabs and Muslims,” SANA said.
Israel last attacked Syria in 2007, when it destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor. Neither Syria nor Israel has acknowledged that attack officially.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials said no one should be surprised that Israel took action to prevent advanced weapons systems from reaching Hezbollah.
On Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Amnon Sofrin, former head of intelligence in the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, said Israel was monitoring the situation in Syria closely and was concerned about the stockpiles of weapons systems and chemical weapons in Syria’s possession.
“I think that if we have solid evidence shared by our own partners all over the world that chemical warheads are being transferred from Syria to Lebanon to Hezbollah, I think no one would condemn Israel for trying to prevent it," he said. “The world should be concerned about the possibility that a terror organization should possess chemical weapons the way we are concerned, because we are not the only targets in the Middle East."
Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio, Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said the international community already had made it clear that it wouldn’t tolerate Syria’s various weapon arsenals falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
“The world – led by President Obama, who has said this more than once – is taking all possibilities into account," Shalom added. “And of course any development which is a development in a negative direction would be something that needs stopping and prevention."
McClatchy special correspondent David Enders contributed to this report from Beirut.