Syria and Iran menace Israel over air raid
Iran has warned that a reported Israeli strike in Syria would have “grave consequences for Tel Aviv” and Syria vowed the attacks would not go unanswered.
Israeli officials have made no comment on the air strikes alleged to have taken place late on Tuesday and early Wednesday, but it appears that two separate targets were hit.
The first sorties destroyed a convoy of trucks carrying Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles from Syria to Lebanon. These missiles, portable and easy to operate, are capable of hitting Israeli fighter jets, helicopters and unmanned drones.
Damascus was silent on reports that a convoy bringing weapons to Hizbullah was hit, but confirmed the second target, an attack by Israeli planes on the Jamraya “research facility”, 20km east of the Lebanese border. Diplomats said the site was crucial to Syria’s missile programme, and was also home to a chemical weapons facility.
Israel has made it clear that it would act to prevent what it calls “game-changing” weapons currently in the hands of the Assad regime reaching Hizbullah. These include Syria’s stocks of chemical and biological weapons, advanced Yakhont surface-to-sea missiles, and advanced GPS-guided surface-to-surface missiles.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said the raid would have significant implications for the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
Iran is a major backer of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon-based Hizbullah. Last week, Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati warned that “an attack on Syria is considered an attack on Iran”. Syrian officials also said they would not stay quiet after the attack.
“All options for a response against Israeli aggression are open,” an official close to the Assad regime said.
Russia, the Arab League and Hizbullah also condemned the attack. US officials, on condition of anonymity, confirmed they had indeed taken place and that Israel had informed Washington ahead of time.
Likud Knesset member Tzachi Hanegbi, who is close to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, implied that Israel could carry out more such missions. “Because it appears the world is not prepared to do what was done in Libya or other places, then Israel finds itself, like it has many times in the past, facing a dilemma that only it knows how to respond to.”