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Syria Today: Israel Airstrikes "Hit Military Research Centre"

See also Syria Snap Analysis: What Did Israel Bomb, and Why?
Middle East Today: Iraq --- Results from Provincial Elections Inconclusive
Saturday's Syria Today: Obama Maintains Cautious Line on US Intervention

1900 GMT: Erdogan Denounces "Butcher" Assad

Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has delivered his strongest denunciation of President Assad, "If God permits, we will see this butcher, this murderer receive his judgement in this world...and we will praise (God) for it."

Erdogan, speaking to lawmakers and party activists in a town near Ankara, addressed Assad, "You will pay a very, very heavy price for showing your courage to the babies in the cradle, the courage you cannot show others."

1350 GMT: Chemicial Weapons

Doctors in Turkey say initial tests of blood samples from victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack in idlib Province last month were negative for sarin gas.

Medics took samples from 13 victims of an assault on the village of Saraqeb on 29 April, carrying out the tests on the same day.

The samples from the victims, who suffered from dizziness, vomiting and respiratory difficulties, have since been sent to Ankara for further testing.

1230 GMT: Israeli Airstrikes

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Muqdad has called Sunday's Israeli airstrikes on regime military facilities a "declaration of war".

Al-Muqdad added that Syria would retaliate against Israel in its own time and way.

1040 GMT: Mass Killing

Another video on YouTube of Thursday's mass killing in Bayada, near Baniyas, on the Syrian coast --- this one claims to show bodies of men before they were allegedly burnt by regime forces.

0620 GMT: Insurgency and Jabhat al-Nusra

The controversy over last month's statement by the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra, responding to an attempt by the Islamic State of Iraq to claim leadership of the movement, continues....

The Ahrar al-Sham Movement, a leading faction of the Syrian Islamic Front, and probably the biggest salafi group in Syria, has respondedwith a criticism of Jabhat al-Nusra.

According to analyst Aron Lund, Ahrar al-Sham has warned that the statement from JAN leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani --- widely, if incorrectly in EA's analysis, read as a "pledge of allegiance" to Al Qa'eda head Ayman al-Zawahiri --- will help the regime and that it will “regionalise” the crisis by bringing other parties into the conflict.

Ahrar al-Sham expresses disappointment in Jabhat al-Nosra, saying that --- as it had previously only seen good deeds from the group --- it expects better.

0520 GMT: Casualties

The Local Coordination Committees claim confirmation of 271 deaths on Saturday.

More than half the deaths are from Thursday's mass killing near the coastal city of Baniyas. Another 33 were in Homs Province, with 29 in Aleppo Province and 21 in Damascus and its suburbs.

The Violations Documentation Center puts the confirmed death toll at 59,383 since the conflict begin in March 2011, an increase of 121 from Saturday.

Of those killed, 46,627 were civilians, a rise of 85 from yesterday.

0510 GMT: Israeli Airstrikes

Haaretz journalist Barak Ravid says the target of this morning's attack was again on weapons for Hezbollah:

Ravid indicated that some of the missiles were inside the "research centre" hit outside Damascus.

0500 GMT: Israeli Airstrikes

Syrian State TV is reporting Israeli airstrikes on a military research centre on the outskirts of Damascus.

The centre in Jamraya was hit by an earlier Israeli strike in January.

"The new Israeli attack is an attempt to raise the morale of the terrorist groups which have been reeling from strikes by our noble army," State TV said. It did not say whether there were any wounded or dead.

A Damascus resident said the "unprecedented" blasts "felt like "an earthquake".

Israeli officials would not comment on the reports.

Overnight on Thursday-Friday, Israeli warplanes --- possibly firing into Syria from outside Syrian airspace --- hit a shipment of weapons for the Lebanese organisation Hezbollah.

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