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Kessel: New phase in Mideast conflict?

CNN's Jerrold Kessel
CNN's Jerrold Kessel

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel launched a military strike deep into Syria on a terrorist training camp, Israel Defense Forces said Sunday.

The overnight attack came hours after a terrorist suicide bombing in an Israeli restaurant killed 19 people and injured at least 50 others, and two Israeli helicopter attacks in Gaza that left at least one person injured. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing.

On Sunday, Israel said the Syrian camp it attacked was being used to train members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas in weapons and guerrilla activities. A spokesman for Islamic Jihad denied the group had training bases in Syria.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel filed the following report on the Israeli military strike on Syria from Jerusalem:

KESSEL: There's still a paucity of details with respect to this operation. We understand -- from high level Israeli military sources -- there was a limited military operation that was conducted by the Israeli Air Force.

Israeli military sources said their warplanes bombed specific targets within this camp that the Israelis say was being used by what they called terror organizations, including, they said, Islamic Jihad.

The Israelis said this camp was used to train various organizations' cadres in all aspects of their activities, whether they're regular munitions and arms training, guerrilla activities, even aerial activities.

The Israeli army has made available to us and to other news organizations a video they said depicted the training camp and was recorded from Syrian and Iranian television broadcasts over the last several months.

When I asked high level military sources whether the video was broadcast recently, they said no, it was from some months ago and they would not be putting out pictures of the operation that happened overnight.

In a statement released by the Israel Defense Forces after Sunday's attack, the Israelis appear to be saying that their message is not only directed against Syria but all countries which -- they say -- abet terrorists.

And quite pointedly in the statement they mention that alleged training camp was supported financially by Iran.

Much will depend now on how specifically Syria will respond to this Israeli accusation of support for terrorists and how the United States sees this Israeli action against the purported terror training base.

We don't really know whether this is a one-time Israeli message -- as they call it. Or whether this is the start of a new, expanded, coordinated campaign against all kinds of targets projected as linked to terrorism -- including Syria -- or other states' support for groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

We could be at the start of a whole new phase in the conflict. It may however be a one-time operation. Much will depend on the responses and the developments over the next several days.


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