Israel Hits Weapons Convoy on Syria-Lebanon Border
-Babak Dehghanpisheh & Joel Greenberg
Israeli aircraft fired at a truck convoy along the Lebanon-Syria border on Wednesday, a Western official said. A former Lebanese official said a missile from an unmanned aircraft struck a truck carrying weapons on the Syrian side of the border heading toward Lebanon. AP said Israel had been making plans in recent days to hit a shipment of anti-aircraft missiles from Syria to Hizbullah in Lebanon that included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 missiles.
Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel's national security council, said the transfer to Hizbullah of weapons considered to be game-changers, such as the Russian anti-aircraft missiles or long-range Scud missiles, would be viewed with equal gravity. "These are no less troubling than chemical weapons," Eiland said. "They are more widespread and not as tightly controlled by the regime, so they can fall into the hands of Hizbullah."
"We do not comment on reports of this kind," a spokeswoman for the Israeli army said. Keeping silent about a military strike against such weapons had the advantage of not goading the other side to respond, Eiland said.
Israel's Strike on Syrian Target Sends a Warning -Patrick Martin
Israel's reported air strike on a convoy in Syria believed to be carrying Russian-made surface-to-air missiles to Hizbullah was aimed to take out sophisticated weaponry and to warn the Damascus regime that it mustn't try such a thing again, said Mark Heller, principal research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
The message to Syria was clear, Heller said, "We're watching. Don't try sending anything to Hizbullah."
While some suggest Syria might be shipping these weapons to Hizbullah for safekeeping, more likely the order to move them would have come from either Russia or Iran, said Heller. In fact, the message of the attack "may have been intended for Tehran," he said.
(Globe and Mail-Canada)
Report: Israeli Airstrike in Syria Hit Iranian Guards
-Ariel Ben Solomon & Yaakov Lappin
The Iraqi daily Azzaman quoted a Western diplomatic source as saying that the alleged Israeli attack on Syria caused heavy casualties among Iranian Guards stationed at the Syrian facility.
The source, interviewed in London, said the base was heavily fortified and contained experts from Russia and at least 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who have been guarding the site for years.
Report: Israel Flattened Syrian Biological Weapons Research Center
-Aaron J. Klein & Karl Vick
Israeli planes struck several targets inside Syria, including a biological weapons research center that was reportedly flattened, Western intelligence officials said. Syria complained of the destruction of the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Jamarya northwest of Damascus, while news organizations reported that Israeli jets hit a convoy carrying advanced anti-aircraft defense systems toward Lebanon. A Western intelligence official indicated that at least one to two additional targets were hit.
Officials also said that Israel had a "green light" from Washington to launch yet more such strikes.
Israel "Considering Further Air Strikes on Syria"
-Phoebe Greenwood & Richard Spencer
Ephraim Kam, deputy director Israel's Institute for National Security Studies and a retired intelligence colonel, said that the risks posed by Iran-allied militants like Hizbullah and Hamas getting their hands on parts of Syria's arsenal of chemical and advanced weaponry were considered far greater than the threat of retaliation.
"If tomorrow the IDF sees the movement of this weaponry, it will and should strike again," he said. "Last week's attack was a kind of warning - 'we are ready and prepared to do this.'"
Report: Iran Refused Assad's Request to Hit Back at Israel
Syria's President Bashar Assad asked Iran to hit back at Israel on its behalf for a reported air strike, Israel's Channel 10 said, but the Iranians told him, "You need to take care of your business."
At the same time, many Syrians are calling on Damascus to attack Israeli interests on the Golan Heights, Channel 2 Arab affairs analyst Ehud Yaari reported Monday, showing clips of a succession of Syrian civilians repeating the mantra that they "want to open up the Golan front."
(Times of Israel)
Syrian Defense Minister: "No Need to Retaliate for Israeli Airstrike"
Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij said that his country had no need to respond militarily to last week's reported Israeli airstrike on his country since the Israeli attack was itself a retaliation.
Israel, he claimed, was hitting back against the regime for its successes against what he said were Israel-backed Syrian rebels.
(Times of Israel)