US officials say Israel notified them of Syrian attack, target was sophisticated SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles
Although, Israel has not confirmed it, American officials have told the New York Times that Israel notified the US that it attacked a convoy of weapons headed for Hezbullah in Lebanon
. The weapons in question were sophisticated SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles (Hat Tip: Herb G
The American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Israel
had notified the United States about the attack, which the Syrian
government condemned as an act of “arrogance and aggression.” Israel’s
move demonstrated its determination to ensure that Hezbollah — its arch
foe in the north — is unable to take advantage of the chaos in Syria to bolster its arsenal significantly.
The predawn strike was the first time in more than five years that
Israel’s air force had attacked a target in Syria. While there was no
expectation that the beleaguered Assad government had an interest in
retaliating, the strike raised concerns that the Syrian civil war had
continued to spread beyond its border.
In a statement, the Syrian military denied that a convoy had been
struck. It said the attack had hit a scientific research facility in the
Damascus suburbs that was used to improve Syria’s defenses, and called
the attack “a flagrant breach of Syrian sovereignty and airspace.”
Israeli officials would not confirm the airstrike, a common tactic here.
But it came after days of intense security consultations with Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the possible movement of chemical
and other weapons around Syria, and warnings that Jerusalem would take
action to thwart any possible transfers to Hezbollah.
Thousands of Israelis have crowded gas-mask distribution centers over
the last two days. On Sunday, Israel deployed its Iron Dome missile
defense system in the north, near Haifa, which was heavily bombed during
the 2006 war with Lebanon.
But a full scale war does not look likely.
“It is necessary and correct to prepare for deterioration — that
scenario exists,” Danny Yatom, a former chief of the Mossad, Israel’s
intelligence agency, told Ynet, a news Web site. “But in my assessment,
there will not be a reaction, because neither Hezbollah nor the Syrians
have an interest in retaliating.”
Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, “is deep in his own troubles,” Mr.
Yatom said, “and Hezbollah is making a great effort to assist him, in
parallel with its efforts to obtain weapons, so they won’t want to
broaden the circle of fighting.”
Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explains why the SA-17's matter.
“Israel is able to fly reconnaissance flights over Lebanon with impunity
right now,” Mr. Levitt said. “This could cut into its ability to
conduct aerial intelligence. The passing along of weapons to Hezbollah
by the regime is a real concern.”
And what's so special about the SA-17
SA-17 is an advanced antiaircraft missile with a low radar signature,
which makes it difficult to target it. It possesses a range of
approximately 25 kilometers, and the IAF considers them a danger to its
freedom of operation in the region.
Labels: anti-aircraft missiles, Bashar al-Assad, Free Syrian Army, Hezbullah, Lebanon, Syria, Syrian uprising