Israel has reportedly bombed a Syrian base to halt an arms shipment to Hezbollah, while the UN-Arab League envoy said Friday there could be no peace talks without the opposition.
An F-16 warplane takes off from the Ramon Air Force base in the Negev Desert, southern Israel, on October 21, 2013
The reported air strike on a military base in regime stronghold Latakia on Wednesday would be the first Israeli strike on Syria since a US-Russian accord on chemical weapons averted punitive US military action last month.
Israel did not comment on the reports, but has struck Syria in the past and warned it will continue to take action to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.
Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television said Israel hit a shipment of surface-to-surface missiles destined for Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the regime.
A US official confirmed to AFP that "there was an Israeli strike" but gave no details on the location or the target.
Syria, which has cooperated with international disarmament efforts, has vowed to retaliate against any attack but did not respond when Israel carried out two air strikes in May.
Hoping to build on the momentum of last month's US-Russian accord to destroy Syria's chemical arsenal by mid-2014, envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been criss-crossing the region to rally support for the so-called Geneva II talks.
Syria's opposition has refused to attend unless President Bashar al-Assad's resignation is on the table -- a demand rejected by Damascus. Rebel groups have warned that participants would be considered traitors.
"If the opposition does not participate there will be no Geneva conference," Brahimi said in Damascus before travelling to Beirut.
The veteran Algerian diplomat met Assad on Wednesday and said the Syrian government had agreed to take part in the talks and that the opposition was "trying to find a way to be represented".
The main opposition National Coalition plans to meet November 9 to decide whether to attend the Geneva talks, but key bloc member Syrian National Council threatened to quit if it does so.
On Friday the Coalition criticised the Assad regime for its "lack of courage to respond" to the reported Israeli strikes and described the loyalist army as "a tool that kills people rather than protecting them".
Chemical arms under 'tamper proof' seals
Meanwhile the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said all of Syria's chemical arms were under "tamper proof" seals.
Some 1,000 tonnes of chemical agents and 290 tonnes of chemical weapons "have been placed under seals that are impossible to break," OPCW spokesman Christian Chartier said Thursday.
The OPCW also said Syria's chemical arms production equipment had been destroyed.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was briefed Friday on the operation by Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch diplomat heading the risky mission, media reported.
After the briefing Ryabkov said Syria's chemical arsenal could be taken out of the country for destruction, RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Inspectors had until Friday to destroy all production and filling equipment, according to a timeline laid down by the OPCW and a UN Security Council resolution.
But how nations go about actually destroying the weapons by a mid-2014 deadline, has been a point of debate.
The Security Council resolution was adopted after a deal was struck between Russia and the United States to avert military strikes on Syria following deadly August chemical attacks near Damascus.
Assad has denied he ordered the attacks and blames rebels for them.
More than 120,000 people have been killed in the 31-month rebellion against the Assad regime triggered by his bloody crackdown on Arab Spring-inspired democracy protests.
The war has also triggered a massive humanitarian crisis and on Friday the UN's food aid agency voiced concern about food shortages and malnutrition among children in besieged areas of Syria.
"The World Food Programme is concerned about the fate of many Syrians trapped in conflict areas and still in need of urgent food assistance," spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.
"We are monitoring worrying reports emerging of malnutrition among children in besieged areas," she said.
Hundred of women, children and the elderly were evacuated this week from the besieged town of Moadamiyet al-Sham southwest of Damascus.
But many other areas are still surrounded by loyalist troops and Friday many such districts in the southern belt of Damascus came under fierce bombardment, activists said.
Assad forces meanwhile seized control of the rebel held town of Sfeira in the northern Aleppo province after a 27-day siege, activist said.
Sfeira is strategic because chemical and other heavy weapon stockpiles are kept there.
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