Israel has carried out an air strike into Syria, targeting a shipment of
missiles bound for Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, an
Israeli official told Reuters on Saturday.
Ministry official Amos Gilad, however, denied that any Israeli official
confirmed such an attack occurred in a cultural event in Beersheba, Army
Reports indicate the strike targeted
surface-to-surface Fateh-110 missiles that were stored at a warehouse
in the Damascus airport. The New York Times quoted American officials as saying the missile shipment came from Iran.
is unclear whether the Fateh-110 missiles were intended for Hezbollah,
who are said to already have a small supply of them, or to Assad
forces, who are running low on Fateh-110 missiles that were used on
opposition forces, the American official told the Times.
American official, however, said the warehouse targeted was under the
control of Hezbollah and Iran's paramilitary Quds Forces.
The Fateh-110 missiles could extend Hezbollah's ability to hit targets deep inside Israel. American officials told the Times the missiles have the range to strike Tel Aviv and much of Israel from southern Lebanon.
has made clear it is prepared to resort to force to prevent advanced
Syrian weapons, including President Bashar Assad's reputed chemical
arsenal, reaching his Hezbollah allies or Islamist rebels taking part in
a more than two-year-old uprising against his government.
attack took place after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's security
cabinet approved it in a secret meeting on Thursday night, the security
CNN quoted unnamed US officials as saying Israel most likely conducted the strike "in the Thursday-Friday time frame" and its jets did not enter Syrian air space.
Israeli Air Force has so-called "standoff" bombs that coast dozens of
kilometers (miles) across ground to their targets once fired. That
could, in theory, allow Israel to attack Syria from its own turf or from
Lebanese authorities reported unusual intensive Israeli air force activity over their territory on Thursday and Friday.
Lebanese security source said his initial impression was that Israeli
overflights were monitoring potential arms shipments between Syria and
Lebanon, potentially to Hezbollah, a militant Shi'ite Muslim ally of
Iran and Assad.
Syrian government sources denied having
information of a strike. Bashar Ja'afari, the Syrian ambassador to the
United Nations, told Reuters: "I'm not aware of any attack right now."
Qassim Saadedine, a commander and spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian
Army, said: "Our information indicates there was an Israeli strike on a
convoy that was transferring missiles to Hezbollah. We have still not
confirmed the location."
In January this year, Israel bombed a
convoy in Syria, apparently hitting weapons destined for Hezbollah,
according to diplomats, Syrian rebels and security sources in the
region. Israel has not formally confirmed carrying out that strike.