Strikes on Syria arms transfers may continue, analysts say

Amos Yadlin tells Washington Post that Israel will consider acting again if it sees weapons moving from Assad to Hezbollah

Joshua Davidovich is The Times of Israel's Deputy Editor

Soldiers affixing missiles to an Israeli jet before a flight over Lebanon in 2006. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Soldiers affixing missiles to an Israeli jet before a flight over Lebanon in 2006. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel is keeping a close eye on Syria and will act if it sees any indication that weapons are being transferred to Hezbollah, military experts said in an interview published Saturday.

A reported Israeli attack on a Syrian weapons convoy could be only the first volley in a series of upcoming strikes against Damascus and Hezbollah should the embattled regime try to transfer weapons to the Lebanese terror group, former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin told the Washington Post.

“Any time Israel will have reliable intelligence that this is going to be transferred from Syria to Lebanon, it will act,” the paper reported Yadlin saying.

He added the caveat that the decision to strike would still be made on a case by case basis.

Hezbollah has reportedly been preparing for the possibility of more attacks, the pan-Arab London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi reported Friday, citing an increase in Israeli fighter jets flying over southern Lebanese airspace and carrying out “mock raids.”

On Saturday  the Lebanese army said Israeli “spy drones” had clocked over 17 hours over Lebanese territory in the past day.

Yadlin told the paper that Israel was looking out for four types of weapons: ballistic rockets, air-defense arms, land-to-sea missiles and chemical weapons.

Hezbollah reportedly already holds some of these weapons within Syrian territory, but cannot move them without risking Israeli action.

Yadlin said that the risk of escalation became greater as Assad’s rule grew languid.

“As the Syrian army becomes weaker and Hezbollah grows more isolated because of the loss of its Syrian patron, it makes sense that this will continue,” he said.

Israel has denied foreign media reports that it hit a weapons convoy or a research site outside Damascus late last month, though officials have hinted at Jerusalem’s involvement.

According to some reports, Israeli planes hit a convoy of Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles on the way from Syria to Lebanon. Syria reported that a research site at Jamarya, north of the capital, had been struck, and footage from the site seemed to show a bombed out building and charred vehicles, including what appeared to be a transport vehicle for an SA-17 battery.

An unnamed military official told the paper that the anti-aircraft missile could “pose a very big problem for the Israeli air force.”

“There are more tangible indications that such weapons could reach Lebanon,” as the fighting continues, the official said.

Yadlin, who now heads of the Institute for National Security Studies, told a security conference last week that Israel would likely come out more secure after the dust settled from the Syrian civil war.

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