Washington: Apparently targeting a suspected weapons site, Israel launched an airstrike into Syria in the wee hours of Friday, US officials said. JPN/Agencies
The strike appeared to hit a warehouse, officials said on the condition of anonymity. Israel has targeted weapons in the past that were believed to be delivered to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.
Earlier this week, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said his group would assist Syrian President Bashar Assad if needed in the effort to put down a 2-year-old uprising.
"What we can say is that Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon," Israeli Embassy spokesman Aaron Sagui said in an email to a news agency.
In 2007, Israeli jets bombed a suspected nuclear reactor site along the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria, an attack that embarrassed and jolted the Assad regime and led to a buildup of the Syrian air defense system. Russia provided the hardware for the defense systems upgrade and continues to be a reliable supplier of military equipment to the Assad regime.
Word of the new strike, first reported by CNN, came hours before President Barack Obama told reporters at a news conference in Costa Rica on Friday that he didn't foresee a scenario in which the US would send troops to Syria. More than 70,000 peoples have died and hundreds of thousands have fled the country as the Assad regime has battled rebels.
The Israeli strike also follows days of renewed concerns that Syria might be using chemical weapons against opposition forces. Obama has characterized evidence of the use of chemical weapons as a "game-changer" that would have "enormous consequences."
While the US has been providing nonlethal aid to opposition forces in Syria, even stepping up that form of support in recent days, the Obama administration has resisted calls from some American lawmakers to arm the rebels or to work to establish a no-fly zone to aid the insurgency.
On Thursday, however, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the administration is rethinking its opposition to providing arms to the rebels. He said it was one of several options as the US consults with allies about steps to be taken to drive Assad from power. Officials in the administration who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss strategy said earlier this week that arming the opposition forces was seen as more likely than any other military option.
Washington: Apparently targeting a suspected weapons site, Israel launched an airstrike into Syria in the wee hours of Friday, US officials said.