Israel strikes Syria twice over weekend

Israel conducted airstrikes against Syria on Thursday night and Sunday morning, according to local and international sources.

Damage from Israel's Friday attack on Syria (Photo: Press TV)
Damage from Israel’s Friday attack on Syria (Photo: Press TV)

Israel conducted an airstrike against Syria, reported a US official on Friday. On Saturday, an Israeli official confirmed the report for AP, saying it targeted a shipment of advanced missiles.

CNN quoted two unnamed US officials as saying Israel most likely conducted the strike “in the Thursday-Friday time frame” and that Israel’s warplanes did not enter Syrian airspace.

A US official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters that the shipment was not of chemical arms, but of “game changing” weapons bound for Hezbollah. On Saturday, an Israeli official confirmed the report, saying it targeted a shipment of advanced missiles.

An anonymous Israeli official confirmed the reports on Saturday in a talk with AP. Officially Israel declines to comment on the strike.  According to the Israeli official the air strike took place after it was approved in a secret meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet on Thursday night.

The New York Times reported Saturday that the airstrike was directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, according to American officials.

The missiles, known as Fateh-110s, had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus when they were struck in the attack, one American official said.

Lebanese authorities reported unusual intensive Israeli Air Force activity over their territory on Thursday and Friday.

Based on initial indications, US officials told CNN they do not believe Israeli warplanes entered Syrian airspace to conduct the strikes. It was estimated the strike was carried out from Lebanon. Ynet’s military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai estimates the assault was not conducted from Lebanese airspace but from greater distance, possibly from over the sea. Israel’s Rafael-manufactured “Popeye” system is capable of carrying out such strikes.

According to Reuters, Israel’s air force possesses so-called “standoff” bombs that coast dozens of kilometers across ground to their targets once fired.

Early on Sunday Israel carried out a second air strike on Syria in an attack that shook Damascus with a series of powerful blasts and drove columns of fire into the night sky.

Syrian sources confirm that the Sunday strike targeted a research center in a suburb of Damascus. The Syrian state television said the Jamraya research center, located northwest of the capital, was the target of the Israeli missile attack. There have been no immediate reports of casualties. The Jamraya research center was also targeted by an Israeli airstrike in January.

According to the Syrian state television Israeli attacks are “an attempt to raise the morale of the terrorist groups” fighting the Assad regime. The Syrian regime believes the ongoing chaos in the country is being orchestrated from outside the country.

On Saturday, US President Barack Obama said the Israeli regime had the right to launch airstrikes on Syria.

“What I have said in the past and I continue to believe is that the Israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry” to resistance movements like Hezbollah”, Obama stated in an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Obama does not envision sending US troops to Syria, although the American Secretary of State claims that Washington is considering supplying arms to anti-Assad troops in the Arab country.

* Published by the AlternativeInformationCenter (AIC)

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