(photo credit: REUTERS)
A leading Israeli expert on Syria told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Russia’s increasing military presence in the country would not prevent Israel from attacking it to defend itself.
“The arrival of the Russians does not prevent Israel from carrying out attacks,” said Prof. Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria from the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University.
Previous foreign press reports
about Israel attacking Syria took place also after the Russian’s began increasing their military intervention in the country, he noted.
“There is more caution and vigilance, but my understanding is that there is no change in Israeli policy. When there are targets, then attack.”
Regarding the latest reported attack by Israel against Hezbollah targets in the area around Qalamoun overnight Saturday, Zisser responded that he does not know whether these latest Syrian reports are accurate, but noted that usually when there are attacks, there tends to be intensive media reports in Syria and Lebanon about them.
“That didn’t happen in this case,” he said, adding that this adds doubt to the veracity of the reports.
The Lebanese media outlet Al-Mustaqbal reported that there were dead and wounded Hezbollah fighters in the attack close to the Lebanese border, Israel Radio reported citing Syrian forces.
A source close to commanders of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) told the Post
that FSA forces in the Lebanon-Syrian border region confirmed that an Israeli attack likely occurred Saturday night.
“They are confident that Israel bombed since they are the only ones attacking Hezbollah targets,” said the source.
“FSA commanders welcome any attacks of Israel,” said the source.
“I have been in touch with these commanders for more than three years.”
Last week, Israel reportedly attacked targets in the same area of Syria.
In that attack, the sources claimed that 13 Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters were killed and dozens were wounded, including four seriously. The source said that his rebel contacts also confirmed that Israel probably carried out that attack as well.
Qalamoun has been a major transit point for Hezbollah fighters and other logistical equipment to and from Syria.
In October, Syrian media reported Israeli fighter jets attacked numerous Hezbollah targets in the South of Syria including a weapons convoy destined for Hezbollah fighters.
Israel has reportedly struck Hezbollah in Syria several times over the past year, although the military regularly declines to comment on foreign media reports.