Syria Accuses Israel of Airstrike on Military FacilityBy and
Israel has warned that Iran, Hezbollah entrenching in Syria
It worries they are preparing new launchpads against it
Syria accused the Israeli air force of attacking one of its military facilities, just weeks after Israel served notice to friends and foes alike that it won’t let the war there breed new threats to its security.
Israel had no comment on the attack, which threatened to escalate frictions with enemies on its northern border and possibly with Russia, whose military is shoring up Syrian forces. The Syrian army command warned of “repercussions of such aggression on the security and stability of the region,” state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
The airstrike, conducted from neighboring Lebanon, targeted a facility in Masyaf in northwestern Syria, causing damage and killing two people, SANA said, without giving further details. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group, said the target was a military base with Iranian advisers on site that holds a scientific research center and a rocket stockpile. Its head, Rami Abdurrahman, said five people were killed, but he had no details on their roles or nationalities.
The attack comes just weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Russia and sent aides to the U.S. to urge them to block Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, from developing weapons and establishing bases in Syria that could one day threaten the Jewish state. A specific concern is a recent truce deal brokered by the U.S. and Russia that doesn’t set that aim. Both Iran and Hezbollah are in Syria backing troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
Although Israel generally doesn’t comment on reports its air force struck in Lebanon or Syria, Netanyahu has acknowledged dozens of assaults against Hezbollah.
The overnight strike was not a routine one, targeting “a Syrian military-scientific center for the development and manufacture of, among other things, precision missiles, which will have a significant role in the next round of conflict,” former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on Twitter, referring to the media reports.
It sends the message that Israel won’t allow the production of strategic weapons that could change the power balance in the region and intends to “enforce its red lines, despite the fact that the great powers are ignoring them,” Yadlin said.
This week, the Israeli military has been conducting a wide-ranging drill simulating war with Hezbollah, which last battled Israel for a month in the summer of 2006.
Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror, an army reserves general, said that by attacking a formal Syrian facility, Israel escalated its intervention in the Syrian conflict. Israel may have been concerned that the installation would be used to transfer weapons to Hezbollah, or that Syria promised to hand over the facility to the militant group, Amidror told journalists in a conference call. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said last week that he visited the Syrian capital, Damascus, and met with Assad.
— With assistance by Abbas Al Lawati