American officials have told American media outlets that Israel did carry out an air strike in Syria last week, and that the target was a Syrian convoy of trucks carrying weapons.
Speaking to the New York Times and to the Washington Post, the officials. who have been sorting through intelligence reports on the issue, said the main focus of the Wednesday attack was SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles and their launchers. The weaponry was Russian-made and thought to have been headed for the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, an Islamist organization allied with Syria and Iran that has long battled Israel from across their shared border.
Syria, which initially denied that the attack had taken place, later said that the strike had destroyed a scientific research center. And on Sunday, a senior American military official told the Times that the damage caused to the research center, which focused on biological and chemical weapons, was collateral in nature.
The Times quoted the official as saying that damage to the facility was likely “due to the bombs which targeted the vehicles” carrying the antiaircraft weapons, and from “the secondary explosions from the missiles.”
“They clearly went after the air defense weapons on the transport trucks,” the Times quoted the official as saying.
The Washington Post sources echoed those of the New York Times, quoting two US officials who confirmed the Israeli airstrike in Syria as targeting a shipment of weapons and causing "minor collateral damage to a nearby research center that deals with chemical weapons."
Voicing the fears of the Israeli government over the transfer of non-conventional weaponry, one senior US military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Post: "The main target was a shipment of weapons in a convoy, potentially headed to the wrong kinds of people.”
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