Israel has made it clear that they will do everything within their power to prevent sophisticated weaponry from Syria falling into the hands of their arch enemy, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
On Friday, Israel apparently made good on that promise. US intelligence tracked a series of overflights from Israel into Lebanon on Friday where we believe the Israeli air force bombed a truck convoy made up of sophisticated, long range missiles capable of carrying chemical weapons that was on its way to Hezbollah.
Israel has carried out an air strike targeting a shipment of missiles in Syria bound for Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, an Israeli official said on Saturday.
Israel had long made clear it is prepared to resort to force to prevent advanced Syrian weapons, including President Bashar al-Assad’s reputed chemical arsenal, reaching his Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah allies or Islamist insurgents taking part in a more than two-year-old uprising against his government.
Hezbollah, allied with Israel’s arch-enemy Iran, waged an inconclusive war with the Jewish state in 2006 and remains a potent threat in Israeli eyes. Israelis also worry that if Assad is toppled, Islamist rebels could turn his guns on them after four decades of relative calm in the Golan Heights border area.
The target of Friday’s raid was not a Syrian chemical weapons facility, a regional security source earlier said.
A U.S. official, who also declined to be identified, had told Reuters on Friday the target was apparently a building.
The Israeli official who acknowledged the raid and described its target spoke on condition of anonymity. Israel’s government has not formally taken responsibility for the action or confirmed it happened.
The attack took place after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet approved it in a secret meeting on Thursday night, the regional security source said.
CNN quoted unnamed U.S. 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.
Consider Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s statement earlier in the week where he promised that President Assad’s allies would never let him fall:
“Syria has real friends in the region and the world that will not let Syria fall in the hands of America, Israel or Takfiri groups. They will not let this happen,” Nasrallah, Assad’s closest ally in Lebanon, said in a televised speech.
“How will this happen? Details will come later. I say this based on information…rather than wishful thinking,” Nasrallah added.
There have been constant warnings over the last year that Assad was going to transfer his chemical weapons stockpiles to Hezbollah. It is not likely that the missiles that were targeted carried chemical weapon warheads, but there is no word on precisely what other targets were engaged by the Israeli air force.
This is the second Israeli strike inside of Syria since the civil war began. In January, Israel hit another convoy carrying unknown weapons into Lebanon. Given the context of Nasrallah’s statement, and the continuing stalemate on the battlefield between Assad’s forces and the jihadist rebels, it probably won’t be the last strike at Syria’s weapons.