Israel reportedly strikes convoy of Syrian weapons


The Israeli Air Force reportedly carried out an airstrike on a Syrian weapons convoy last night. While some accounts have suggested that the convoy may have been carrying chemical weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Associated Press reports that the primary target was Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which were likely destined for Hezbollah.

It is currently unclear whether the strike, which was confirmed to Reuters by four sources, took place in Syrian or Lebanese territory. A high-ranking Lebanese security source told the Daily Star that "[n]o strike took place on Lebanese soil." Haaretz reports that a Lebanese source has said the strike took place near the city of al-Kassir in western Syria, which is approximately 15 kilometers from Lebanon's border.

While Israeli officials have not confirmed the strike, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon reportedly told Israel Radio on Wednesday that Israel will "not compromise on the security of the northern front."

On Wednesday evening, the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces said that Israel had struck "a scientific research center responsible for raising the levels of resistance and self-defense in Jamraya area in Damascus Countryside," according to state-owned Sana. According to the Syrian news agency, two workers were killed and five others injured.

Over the past week, Israeli officials have expressed increased concern with regard to the situation in Syria. On Sunday, Israel deployed Iron Dome batteries in the north, including near Haifa, although an IDF spokesman said the deployment was "not related to any current situation assessments."

The following day, Israel's National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror was sent to Moscow for a "lightning visit" in an attempt "to convince the Kremlin to take steps to prevent Syria's stockpiles from falling into the hands of terrorist groups." On the same day, the New York Times reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "had [recently] been in marathon meetings for several days with military and intelligence chiefs and senior ministers, with unusual strictures on secrecy."

On Tuesday, Al-Monitor reported that IDF intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi was meeting with officials at the Pentagon, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.

Also on Tuesday, the Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Major General Amir Eshel, said that "[t]he weakening governance in neighboring countries heralds greater exposure to hostile activity - Syria is the best example of that. We must deal with a wider array of enemies and adversaries than ever." Eshel added: "We work every day in order to lessen the immediate threats, to create better conditions so that we will be victorious in future wars."

He also warned that "[i]f a threat appears in the long, medium or short range, the Israel Air Force has the ability to exercise force almost instantly, and [implement] almost unlimited options at almost any location."



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READER COMMENTS: "Israel reportedly strikes convoy of Syrian weapons"

Posted by Birbal Dhar at January 30, 2013 2:11 PM ET:

No surprises there - It was more like when rather than if, Israel decided to attack inside Syria since the uprising. As the situation is becoming more anarchic in Syria with Al-Nusra roaming around parts of Syria and evidence of Hezbollah fighting against the uprisers in Syria, Israel was bound to get partially involved in the conflict, to try and protect itself.

Posted by Ken North at January 30, 2013 5:11 PM ET:

Syria is nothing more or less than an Iranian colony, with Lebanon a close second. It is difficult to see how Iran and the I.R.G.C. can let this attack, and the other sortie against a Syrian weapons depot near Damascus, pass unanswered. We have an undeclared but full-throated war in the Middle East and Iran is not about to forgo its historic and strategic acquisition of Mediterranean access. It is abundantly evident with the recent stand-down of the U.S. fleet that Israel is constructively on its own in confronting Hezbollah and Iran.
While France has long-standing interests in the Levant, it also constructively stands alone in confronting al Qaeda 3.0 deployed from Kunar Province West to Guinea-Bissau. Not to mention some 30 odd AQ cells in France fantasizing about their nuclear power plants. France's valiant intervention in the Sahel will soon prove a very lonely endeavor. America's "Pacific pivot" leaves the cradle of Western civilization in the hands of our largely abandoned allies.

Posted by James at January 30, 2013 7:52 PM ET:

This is interesting. Im looking forward to the updates and offical statements that will follow. It must have been important cargo regardless of where the strike took place. Once again the IAF proves it has total usage of any airspace it needs to complete its objective.

Posted by mike merlo at January 30, 2013 8:48 PM ET:

good to read Israel is till aggressively pursuing the acquisition of Intel & following those acquisition's up with appropriate responses

Posted by D Chan at January 30, 2013 9:07 PM ET:

Time and tide wait for no man. Israel has to protect itself, otherwise there could be more consequences.

Posted by Lee Jay at January 31, 2013 11:40 AM ET:

The action by Israel providing it remains minimal will merely boost Syria by encouraging Iran and the Russian Federation, and others, to give more support to Syria.

Also, if Israel believed that the Syrian government was going to fall; then they would not have taken this action - after all, the Syria government blamed Middle East nations like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the UN - alongside the usual players outside of the region. Recent images show Syrian government forces along the border with Turkey -and Jordan is promising to tighten up several rat lines.

The government of Syria did not fall for the "Turkey trap" and clearly they will not fall "for any trap" by others.

Posted by jayc at January 31, 2013 3:38 PM ET:

Mr Barnett, not trying to stir up any dust, but this is what strategypage said about it:


ISRAEL What Is Not Allowed, 31 Jan 2013

"Syria confirmed that Israeli warplanes had bombed a military research facility outside Damascus. Earlier, apparently false, reports had the Israeli aircraft attacking a convoy taking Syrian weapons to Lebanon."

Posted by Eric at January 31, 2013 10:17 PM ET:

The SA-17's were given to Hizbollah by the Assad government as payment-in-kind for services in the fight against the FSA. Hizbollah will strike at Israeli aircraft without much delay if they acquire a shoot-down capability. The real prize would be an El-Al flight over Syrian airspace to finally claim a win for their Operation Radwan which has been an abject failure to get revenge for Mugniyah's assassination for 5 years running. Now here they are spiriting SA-17's across the border into Lebanon just in time for a Feb 12th anniversary shot at the Israelis.

IDF had to do it. If this widens the war, so be it. The other airstrike in Damascus was something entirely different, but make no mistake - it had to be done.

Assad has only 14 - 18 weeks remaining in power, and he will play all his dirtiest tricks now. Word around the campfire says his 2 brothers are presently hard at work getting the Assad family's exit strategy in place outside the country. February is the month we will see massive capital flight from the Alawite elite.

Posted by gb at January 31, 2013 11:41 PM ET:

We can not begin to understand what the Israeli perspective is from afar. I admire these people in that they really dont give a damn about foreign opinion when struggling to survive while surrounded. I have no connection to these folks but when facing enemies they man up and inflict damage even at a cost.