Expect more Israeli air strikes on weapons transfers to Hezbullah
US officials told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday to expect more Israeli air strikes
against Syrian attempts to transfer weapons to Hezbullah.
U.S. officials told The Wall
Street Journal on Thursday that another round of Israeli airstrikes
could target a new Russian transfer of advanced anti-ship missiles in
the near future. Israeli and Western intelligence services believe the
Yakhont missiles, which have been sold by Russia to Syria in recent
years, could be transferred to Hezbollah within days, the newspaper
reported on its website Friday.
At the same time, The New York Times reported
Friday that the Yakhont missiles have already been delivered to Syria's
armed forces. Israel has repeatedly reinforced, with words and actions,
its stated red line: that it will not allow the transfer of
"game-changing" weaponry to Islamic terror groups such as Hezbollah.
Israel has also relayed messages that it is not seeking a confrontation
with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, but will act against
transfers of weaponry through his territory.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
last-minute trip to Russia on Tuesday apparently did not change the
Russians' intentions to also deliver the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft
missile system to Syria. According to the Journal, U.S. officials
believe that Russia is moving more quickly than previously thought to
deliver S-300 surface-to-air defense systems to Syria. U.S. officials
told the paper that the S-300 system, which is capable of shooting down
guided missiles and could make it more risky for any warplanes to enter
Syrian airspace, could leave Russia for Syrian port of Tartus by the end
Together, the S-300 anti-aircraft and
anti-missile system, and the Yakhont anti-ship system, would pose a
formidable threat to any outside intervention in Syria, based on the
international Libya model. The anti-ship missiles would be a serious
threat to the Israeli navy, as well as the facilities above Israel's
newfound underwater gas reserves. The S-300 could threaten Israeli
military and civilian aircraft flying Israeli airspace, and not just
over Lebanese and Syrian airspace.
In a sign of the growing
tension in the region, CIA Director John Brennan arrived in Israel
Thursday and met with the top officials in Israel's defense
establishment, with a central focus on the developments in Syria. It was
Brennan's first trip to Israel since assuming his position two months
ago. The CIA chief went straight into a meeting in Tel Aviv with Defense
Minister Moshe Ya'alon, a senior Israeli official told AFP.
Channel 10 TV said that Ya'alon reaffirmed
during the talks that Israel "will not permit the transfer of weapons"
from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to local press reports,
Brennan's visit is aimed at coordinating U.S. and Israeli positions over
the escalating crisis in Syria, specifically as international
diplomatic momentum between the U.S. and Russia gathers for a peaceful
resolution to the crisis.
According to the reports, the U.S. is
concerned that Israel will act independently to strike any advanced arms
shipments in Syria it believes may be headed to Hezbollah, potentially
scuttling the international diplomatic maneuvering.
Just like with Iran, Obama's main focus on Syria is to keep Israel from attacking. What could go wrong?
Shabbat Shalom everyone.
Labels: Bashar al-Assad, Hezbullah, Nusra Front, Russia, S-300 missile defense system, Syria, Syrian uprising, Yakhont land to sea missile