Israel carried out a July 5 early morning air strike in Syria, anonymous US
officials told CNN on Friday.
The attack on Latakia, for which there was
no claim of responsibility, was the work of the Israel Air Force, the officials
Three unnamed US officials told CNN the IAF had targeted
Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles that could pose a threat to
Qassem Saadeddine, spokesman for the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme
Military Council, said the pre-dawn attack hit Syrian Navy barracks at Safira,
near the port of Latakia. The rebel forces’ intelligence network had identified
newly supplied Yakhont missiles being stored there, he said.
“It was not
the FSA that targeted this,” Saadeddine told Reuters. “It is not an attack that
was carried out by rebels.
This attack was either by air raid or
long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean.”
more than a month after the White House announced plans to provide light arms to
Syria’s opposition forces in their fight against President Bashar Assad, no
shipments have been dispatched, frustrating the Obama administration as it
awaits approval from a skeptical Congress.
The intelligence committees in
both the House and Senate are required to sign off on a release of funding for
such an operation. But in a rare case of bipartisanship, neither party nor
chamber committee appears willing to do so after President Barack Obama
presented his plans to sitting members.
Sources speaking to The Jerusalem
Post cited a prevailing worry that the administration does not have a strategy
thorough enough to prevent the transfer of such weapons to al-Qaida or its
For a covert operation to go forward, the president must send
a “finding” to the intelligence committees in which he explains the rationale
for his plan and requests an appropriation of money for the
While it’s possible for an operation to proceed without approval
from Congress, the Central Intelligence Agency risks having to pay the cost of
the operation from somewhere in its existing budget if Congress fails to approve
Such consensus for delay in the intelligence committees, as there
is today on Syria, is an extremely rare occurrence, says Bruce Riedel, director
of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution.
unusual, and very unusual for there to be this much resistance coming from both
sides of the aisle, both Republicans and Democrats,” Riedel told the Post. “The
sense on the Hill is that the administration doesn’t have a coherent program or
mission, and it doesn’t have a mechanism to ensure that weapons don’t fall into
the wrong hands.”
For the delivery of arms and ammunition to begin,
Riedel says, “the administration needs to come back to the Congress with a new
plan that the committees feel comfortable with.”
That may take several
weeks more, Riedel says, when these transactions often take two weeks or less
under such pressing circumstances.
Administration officials have voiced
aggravation that many of the same elected officials who have publicly called on
the White House to more aggressively back the rebels are now privately stalling
Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden and
CIA director John Brennan have reached out to those wavering intelligence
committee members to reassure them on the submitted finding, Reuters reported
this week, with little success.
In response to rumors that the July 5 air
strike could have been carried out by the IDF, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon
said on Tuesday that Israel will continue to stand on the sidelines of Syria’s
In an apparent reference to the strike – which killed between
10 and 20 Syrian military personnel – Ya’alon maintained: “For a long time we
have continued to say that we are not involving ourselves in the bloody civil
war in Syria. We have established our red lines and we are sticking to
“When there is an attack or explosion of some sort or another in
the Middle East...
no matter what, we are blamed,” he said during a visit
to Tze’elim army base in the Negev. “The Syrian civil war has also spread into
Lebanon for some time.
Hezbollah has joined the fighting in Syria, and we
see inside Lebanon – in Tripoli, Sidon and also in Beirut – reports like those
today, of car bombs. This is largely a struggle between the Shi’ites and
Sunnis... We are not involved in this.”
Reuters contributed to this