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Monday
Oct292012

Monitors: Satellite Images Show Air Strike Damage in Sudan

IAN TIMBERLAKE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Days after Sudanese officials blamed Israel for launching an air strike on a weapons factory south of the African nation's capital, a monitoring group said satellite images appear to show damage consistent with an aerial bombing.

The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), a George Clooney-backed partnership between the anti-genocide non-profit Enough Project and the satellite imaging company DigitalGlobe, published birds-eye imagery taken Oct. 25, two days after a large explosion erupted from the Yarmouk weapons factory.

The images appear to show the total destruction of a 60-meter-long "shed-type" building as well as approximately 40 shipping containers around it, along with damage to factory buildings as far as 700 meters away from the epicenter of the explosions, according to the SSP report. The report identified several 16-meter-wide craters that it said were "consistent with impact craters created by air-delivered munitions."

Within hours of Tuesday's overnight explosions, top Sudanese officials blamed Israel for carrying out what would have been a long-range aerial assault. Two people were reportedly killed in the blast. Israeli officials have declined to comment on the incident, but a top military aide, Amos Gilad, said Thursday that Sudan is a "dangerous terrorist state."

"To know exactly what happened, it will take some time to understand," he said.

Israel has long accused Sudan of being a base of support for Iran and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, calling it a conduit for arms heading to militant groups in the Gaza Strip via Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

"The images show just how precise and deliberate this strike was," said Steve Ganyard, a former Marine Corps pilot and an ABC News consultant. "The Israelis knew exactly what they wanted to destroy."

Haaretz, an Israeli news outlet, reported last week that "opposition sources" in the Sudan claimed the factory itself was actually owned and operated by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard. Alex Fishman, an Israeli military analyst, agreed.

"One thing is certain: That factory did not belong to the Sudanese military industries," he said last week. "It was a factory that belonged to the government in Tehran and which was run by Iranians. If there were any casualties in the attack, it is reasonable to assume that some of them were Iranian."

Also over the weekend, the United Kingdom's Sunday Times published a detailed report on the alleged attack, citing defense sources, which claimed the explosions were the result of an Israeli operation carried out by eight F-15 jets, one refueling tanker, two helicopters and one sleek signals intelligence Gulf Stream jet.

The Times also reported that the American government had been warned of the attack and closed its embassy in Khartoum the day after the incident as a precaution against any local violence. But U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters last week that the decision to close the embassy was only made after word of the explosion spread.

A local Sudanese newspaper today reported that CIA head David Petraeus called a top Sudanese intelligence official to say that America did not have anything to do with the apparent attack. The CIA declined to comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio