Report: Arms convoy was target of alleged strike in Syria

Reuters quotes Israeli official who confirmed air strike targeted Syrian missiles shipment headed to guerrillas in Lebanon; Defense Ministry official Gilad denies confirmation; Syrian chemical weapons facility not targeted.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
May 4, 2013 19:14
2 minute read.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Nasrallah Assad Ahmadinejad 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Sana)

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.

Senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad, however, denied that any Israeli official confirmed such an attack occurred in a cultural event in Beersheba, Army Radio reported.

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Israel 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.

There were contradicting reports regarding the target of the alleged strike. Reuters quotes a regional security source as saying the target was not a Syrian chemical weapons facility, while a US official said on Friday the target was apparently a building.

The Guardian, on the other hand, quotes an Israeli source as saying the target of the strike was a convoy carrying a shipment of advanced long-range ground-to-ground missiles from Syria to Hezbollah militias in Lebanon.

The attack took place after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's security cabinet approved it in a secret meeting on Thursday night, the security source said.

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.

The 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 adjacent Lebanon.

Lebanese authorities reported unusual intensive Israeli air force activity over their territory on Thursday and Friday.

A 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."

But 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.


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