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Israeli Officials Confirm Syria Air Strike - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A file picture dated 04 November 2012 shows an Israeli F-15 jet fighter as it lowers its landing gear to come in for landing at an air force base in southern Israel. (EPA/JIM HOLLANDER)

A file picture dated 04 November 2012 shows an Israeli F-15 jet fighter as it lowers its landing gear to come in for landing at an air force base in southern Israel. (EPA/JIM HOLLANDER)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Israel carried out an air strike into Syrian territory, targeting a missiles shipment reportedly bound for Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon, Israeli officials confirmed on Saturday.

Tel Aviv had previously made clear that it is prepared to resort to the use of force to prevent advanced Syrian arms, including chemical weapons, from reaching Hezbollah or Islamist rebels seeking to oust Assad.

The Israeli official, speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the Friday raid had been targeting missile shipments bound for Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

A second Israeli official, speaking to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, also confirmed that Israel had launched an air strike into Syria, adding this was targeting a “game-changing” shipment of advanced missiles bound for the Lebanese militant group.

Israel’s government has not formally taken responsibility for the action or even confirmed its occurrence, in line with Israel’s traditional national security policy.

A regional source had previously claimed that the target was not a Syrian chemical weapons facility. The source also told Reuters that this attack had been authorized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet in a secret meeting on Thursday night.

CNN reported news of the attack on Friday, citing two unnamed US officials. It quoted the officials as saying that Israel had most likely conduced this strike “in the Thursday-Friday time frame”, adding that Israeli warplanes had not entered Syrian airspace.

Responding to CNN’s claims, an IDF spokeswoman said, “We don’t respond to reports of this kind.”

In Washington, an Israeli embassy spokesman told Reuters: “We cannot comment on these reports, but what we can say is that Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

The Israeli Air Force has so-called “standoff” bombs that can coast dozens of kilometres to their targets, which could allow them to strike Syria from Israel or Lebanon, Reuters reported.

A Lebanese security source told Reuters that Beirut believes the attack “is linked to Israel’s concerns over the transfer of weapons, particularly chemical weapons, from Syria to its allies in Lebanon.”

Syrian rebel commander Qassim Saadedine, said: “Our information indicates there was an Israeli strike on a convoy that was transferring missiles to Hezbollah,” adding, “we have still not confirmed the location.”

Earlier this year, Israel bombed a weapons convoy in Syria, reportedly hitting weapons destined for Hezbollah.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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