Thursday’s strike on a Syrian air defense missile base near Latakia could be the
latest chapter in a long, covert Israeli campaign to disrupt Iran’s massive
program to arm Hezbollah via Syria.
Iran continues to try to supply
Hezbollah with advanced weapons for use against Israel, and the Assad regime,
which owes its survival to Tehran and Hezbollah, has never been more compliant
with Iranian requests to transfer or provide weapons to the Shi’ite terror
organization in Lebanon.
With Hezbollah already in possession of 80,000
rockets and missiles, some of which can strike any target in Israel, Jerusalem
faces a daily dilemma on when to intervene to stop the armament program – a step
that could trigger a wider conflict – and when to step back and allow the force
buildup to continue.
In principle, low-profile strikes allow for pinpoint
action to disrupt the arms flow, without getting dragged into a wider
If a decision is taken to intervene, it would be when security
chiefs feel that strategic arms are en route to Hezbollah, weapons that would
allow it to cause serious damage to the Israeli home front or the IDF in the
next round of fighting.
Such weapons might include advanced surface-to-air missiles, surface-to-sea missiles and guided surface-to-surface missiles
– which would give Hezbollah the ability to hit sensitive strategic targets in
According to international media reports, the last alleged
Israeli attack in Syria occurred on July 5 in Latakia, targeting advanced
Russian-made surface-to-sea Yakhont missiles.
Unnamed American sources
told The New York Times that this strike did not destroy all of the missiles it
targeted, that Bashar Assad ordered his army to set fire to the site to try and
hide that fact, and that another attack would be needed to complete the
It remains unclear whether Wednesday night’s reported blasts are
linked to such claims.
What is clear is that Iran, the Assad regime and
Hezbollah are working to assist one another, and that Hezbollah’s efforts to
increase its threat to the Israeli home front cannot go unchecked indefinitely.