Israel Strikes Inside Syria, Targeting Missiles Headed For Hezbollah: Officials

 @MayaErgas on May 04 2013 1:06 PM
The Syrian Front
A Free Syrian Army fighter fires a rocket propelled grenade during heavy fighting in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus, January 30, 2013. Reuters

The Israeli Air Force carried out an airstrike on Syrian territory "in the Thursday-Friday time frame," unnamed U.S. officials told CNN. The targets, according to multiple sources, were not suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites, but instead a convoy of missiles suspected of heading toward Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"What we can say is that Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon," Israeli Embassy spokesman Aaron Sagui said in an email to the AP. 

CNN reported a large number of fly-overs by Israeli warplanes in Lebanon preceding the strike, a move Lebanese President Michel Sleiman called a "policy of intimidation." Lebanon's Daily Star reported that the Israeli planes flew over southern Lebanon "at low altitudes" on Friday morning.

This is the second recently reported operation by the Israel Defense Force within Syrian territory. The last operation was reported in late January, and it was also said to be a strike against an attempted transfer of weapons from Syria's Bashar al-Assad to Hezbollah.

The IDF officials have refused to formally confirm either the recent strike or the one that occurred earlier this year, the Jerusalem Post reported. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assembled his security cabinet for "secret talks" on Thursday night, a move that the Post and Reuters noted often precedes military action.

Syrian news outlets have not reported on the strike. 

For the past several weeks, rumors gained traction regarding the Syrian government's possible use of chemical weapons against Syrian citizens, a move that U.S. President Barack Obama has always cited as the U.S.' "red line."

U.S. officials have confirmed they have evidence of chemical weapons use. Now, the question is, what will Obama do next? 

At a press conference on Friday, Obama made it clear that sending U.S. troops into Syria was last on his list of his preferred solutions to this problem. 

"I'm going to make those decisions based on the best evidence and after careful consultation, because when we rush into things, when we leap before we look, then not only do we pay a price, but oftentimes we see unintended consequences on the ground," Obama said, as quoted by Al-Jazeera. "So it's important that we do it right." 

Meanwhile, both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas are traveling separately to China next week, both with the same goal of shoring up support for their countries' trade relations in the region.

Netanyahu's trip will be the first visit by an Israeli leader to China in five years, Reuters reported. China is one of the largest and richest customers of Iran, which has traded heated threats with Israel over Iran's burgeoning nuclear program. 

Join the Discussion