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.
Rebel Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Almokdad said rebels don’t even have unconventional weapons, nor do they want any.
“In any case, we don’t have the mechanism to launch these kinds of weapons, which would need missiles that can carry chemical warheads, and we in the FSA do not possess these kind of capabilities,” Almokdad said.
“More importantly, we do not aspire to have (chemical weapons) because we view our battle with the regime as a battle for the establishment of a free democratic state. … We want to build a free democratic state that recognizes and abides by all international accords and agreements — and chemical and biological warfare is something forbidden legally and internationally.”
More: 42 Syrian Troops Dead in Reported Israeli Strike, Group Says