Israel has for the first time confirmed that it destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor being built in Syria in 2007.
The military said fighter jets bombed the al-Kibar facility in Deir al-Zour province, 450km (280 miles) north-east of Damascus, as it neared completion.
Syria’s government has repeatedly denied that it was building a reactor.
The Israeli defence minister said the public acknowledgement of the strike after more than 10 years of secrecy was a message to his country’s enemies.
“The motivation of our enemies has increased in recent years, but the strength of our army, our air force and our intelligence capabilities have increased compared with the capabilities we had in 2007,” Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement.
“This equation should be taken into account by everyone in the Middle East.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said a “vast intelligence effort” began in late 2004, when Israeli agents obtained information that foreign experts – believed to be North Korean – were helping Syria with a nuclear project.
After the Israeli intelligence community located the building site and predicted that the nuclear reactor would turn operational by the end of 2007, the IDF made plans for an air strike dubbed “Operation Outside the Box”.