Israel bombs missiles bound for Hezbollah

Israel's PM Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem

Israel has carried out an air strike targeting a shipment of missiles in Syria bound for Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon, an Israeli official said on Saturday.

Israel had long made clear it is prepared to resort to force to prevent advanced Syrian weapons, including President Bashar al-Assad’s reputed chemical arsenal, reaching his Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah allies or Islamist insurgents taking part in a more than two-year-old uprising against his government.

Hezbollah, allied with Israel’s arch-enemy Iran, waged an inconclusive war with the Jewish state in 2006 and remains a potent threat in Israeli eyes. Israelis also worry that if Assad is toppled, Islamist rebels could turn his guns on them after four decades of relative calm in the Golan Heights border area.

The target of Friday’s raid was not a Syrian chemical weapons facility, a regional security source earlier said.

A U.S. official, who also declined to be identified, had told Reuters on Friday the target was apparently a building.

The Israeli official who acknowledged the raid and described its target spoke on condition of anonymity. Israel’s government has not formally taken responsibility for the action or confirmed it happened.

The attack took place after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet approved it in a secret meeting on Thursday night, the regional security source said.

CNN quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying Israel most likely conducted the strike “in the Thursday-Friday time frame” and its jets did not enter Syrian air space.

The Israeli air force has so-called “standoff” bombs that coast dozens of kilometers (miles) across ground to their targets once fired. That could, in theory, allow Israel to attack Syria from its own turf or from adjacent Lebanon.

Lebanese authorities reported unusual intensive Israeli air force activity over their territory on Thursday and Friday.

A Lebanese security source said his initial impression was that Israeli overflights were monitoring potential arms shipments between Syria and Lebanon, potentially to Hezbollah.

“We believe that it is linked to Israel’s concerns over the transfer of weapons, particularly chemical weapons, from Syria to its allies Lebanon,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

Syrian government sources denied having information of a strike. Bashar Ja’afari, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, told Reuters: “I’m not aware of any attack right now.”

ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES TARGETED?

But Qassim Saadedine, a commander and spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, said: “Our information indicates there was an Israeli strike on a convoy that was transferring missiles to Hezbollah. We have still not confirmed the location.”

Rebel units were in disagreement about what type of weapons were in the convoy. A rebel from an information-gathering unit in Damascus that calls itself “The Syrian Islamic Masts Intelligence” said the convoy carried anti-aircraft missiles.

The rebel, who asked not to be named, said: “There were three strikes by Israeli F-16 jets that damaged a convoy carrying anti-aircraft missiles heading to the Shi’ite Lebanese party (Hezbollah) along the Damascus-Beirut military road.

“One strike hit a site near the (Syrian) Fourth Armoured Division in al-Saboura but we have been unable to determine what is in that location”.

Saadedine said he did not think the weapons were anti-aircraft. “We have nothing confirmed yet but we are assuming that it is some type of long-range missile that would be capable of carrying chemical materials,” he said.

In January this year, Israel bombed a convoy in Syria, apparently hitting weapons destined for Hezbollah, according to diplomats, Syrian rebels and security sources in the region.

Israel has not formally confirmed carrying out that strike.

Lebanese acting foreign minister Adnan Mansour was critical. “Attacks such as these will result in more tension and blow up the situation which it promoted,” he said.

“This will not give Israel the peace or security that it wants, in its own way, rather it will push the region into an inflamed struggle and into the unknown.”

Giora Eiland, a former Israeli army general and national security adviser, said the apparent deadlock in Syria’s civil war, now in its third year, meant the Netanyahu government had to be prudent in any military intervention.

“I don’t anticipate far-reaching consequences in Lebanon or Syria (from Israel’s actions),” Eiland told Israel Radio. “Israel appears to be conducting itself judiciously.”

Israel remains technically at war with neighboring Syria. It captured Syria’s Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war, built settlements and annexed the land. Yet belligerence was rare and the borderland has remained largely quiet for decades.

But Israeli security concerns have risen since Islamist fighters linked to al-Qaeda assumed a prominent role in the insurrection against Assad.

They have also worried that Hezbollah could eventually obtain his chemical arsenal and other advanced weaponry. But there is no risk of that happening for the time being, a senior Israeli official said on Saturday.

“Syria has large amounts of chemical weaponry and missiles. Everything there is under (Assad government) control,” Defence Ministry strategist Amos Gilad said in a speech.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Gossip

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

Music

Incubus singer Brandon Boyd on his newest act,…

The rocker is releasing two new passion projects.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…