Damascus, Syria
Damascus, Syria

WASHINGTON - A massive explosion in Syria early Thursday hit near the Damascus International Airport, resulting in a fire and questions about its cause.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria, said the blast did not happen at the airport itself, but could be heard within the city of Damascus 25 kilometers away.

Lebanon's pro-Hezbollah al-Manar television said the explosion was the result of airstrikes by Israeli warplanes, while Syrian state media said Israeli missiles hit the site.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz did not say Israel was responsible, but said "it absolutely matches our declared policy, a policy that we also implement."

Throughout the Syrian war, which began in March 2011, Israel has made it clear it would not allow shipments of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah units fighting in Syria.  Israeli forces have on multiple occasions used airstrikes or other attacks to stop such moves, with the military often declining to confirm it was responsible for the strikes.  Hezbollah and Israel fought each other in the 2006 Lebanon War.

Hezbollah fighters have openly fought in Syria on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad since 2013.

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