Israeli strike on Syrian side of border destroyed anti-aircraft and anti-tank missilesanti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles that were heading for Hezbullah in Lebanon during the early hours of Wednesday morning. There were no chemical weapons involved. The attack took place just inside the Syrian side of the border in an area where the border is not well delineated.
"The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon," said one Western diplomat, adding that the consignment seemed unlikely to have included chemical weapons.
A source among rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad said an air strike around dawn (0430 GMT) blasted a convoy on a mountain track about 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of where the main Damascus-Beirut highway crosses the border. Its load probably included high-tech anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.
"It attacked trucks carrying sophisticated weapons from the regime to Hezbollah," the source said, adding that it took place inside Syria, though the border is poorly defined in the area.
A security official in the region also placed the attack on the Syrian side. A Lebanese security official denied any strike in Lebanon. It was not clear whether special forces took part.
The Israeli government declined comment on the issue.
Such a strike would fit its existing policy of pre-emptive covert and overt action to curb Iranian-backed Hezbollah and does not necessarily indicate a major escalation of the war in Syria. It does, however, indicate how the erosion of Assad's family rule after 42 years is seen by Israel as posing a threat.
Some analysts suggested Hezbollah was moving its own arms caches from stores in Syria, fearing rebels would overrun them.Those of you who have been longtime readers might recall that during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Israel attacked supply convoys being sent from Bashar al-Assad to Hezbullah just inside the Lebanese side of the border. At the time, the Bush administration was encouraging Israel to attack Syria, but then-Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert was afraid to do it. Olmert could have saved a lot of Syrian lives by deposing Assad then.
Now, the situation is different. The IDF would rather attack in a weakened Syria than run the risk of giving Hebzullah an excuse for a distraction from the ongoing Syrian civil war. But our government still seems determined to stand firm and not allow Hezbullah to obtain advanced weapons or weapons of mass destruction.