With Israel still tight-lipped over an alleged strike in Syria, a senior Israeli official told Reuters Friday that he did not expect President Bashar Assad to respond to the Wednesday attack on an airbase in Latakia.
“Assad is disarming out of his own interests,” said the official, referring to the chemical disarmament deal brokered by Russia. “He knows how to make the necessary distinctions,” the unnamed official continued, hinting that Assad was likely to choose not to retaliate.
The official did not confirm any Israeli attack. But speaking to Israel Radio Friday, Home Front Defence Minister Gilad Erdan, who is part of the inner security cabinet, told Israel Radio that it was Israeli policy to prevent weapons shipments to Hezbollah.
“We have said many times that we will not allow the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” Erdan said. ”We are sticking to this policy and I say so without denying or confirming this report.”
An Obama administration official told CNN on Thursday that Israeli warplanes had in fact attacked an airbase in Latakia on Wednesday. The target was “missiles and related equipment” which the Israeli government assessed might be transferred to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, the report said.
Technically at war with Syria, Israel spent decades in a stable standoff with Damascus while the Assad family ruled unchallenged. It has been reluctant to intervene openly in the 33-month Islamist-dominated insurgency rocking Syria. However, it is determined not to see Hezbollah profit from the unrest. Hezbollah fought Israel to a standstill in a 34-day war six years ago. Israel has warned that any future conflict will be much more brutal.