Tags: israel | airstrike | syria

Reports: Israel Conducted Airstrike in Syria

Image: Reports: Israel Conducted Airstrike in Syria Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Friday, 03 May 2013 10:30 PM

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Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes against targets inside Syria on Friday, U.S. officials told NBC News.

It is believed the primary target was a shipment of weapons headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon, they said.

A senior U.S. official said the airstrikes were believed to be related to delivery systems for chemical weapons.

MSNBC has reported it confirmed that Israel hit at least one military target in Syria.

CNN quoted sources saying Israel most likely conducted the strike "in the Thursday-Friday time frame" and that Israel's warplanes did not enter Syrian airspace.

And South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told a GOP gathering in his state, “Israel bombed Syria tonight.”

Graham was addressing the South Carolina Republican Party’s annual Silver Elephant fundraising dinner, Politico reports. He mentioned the purported attack in passing, amid a longer discourse on U.S. national security policy.

In Washington, a White House spokeswoman referred questions to the Israeli government.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli defense official declined to comment, and a military spokeswoman said, "We do not comment on reports of this kind."

But the spokeswoman told NBC, “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.”

This would be the second time this year Israel conducted airstrikes inside Syria. In January, Israeli fighter jets attacked a convoy of sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles believed to be on their way to Hezbollah.

Israel fought at 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly acknowledged the January airstrike inside Syria in a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Tel Aviv on April 22.

Ya’alon said any Syrian delivery of sophisticated weapons to rogue elements like Hezbollah would be a “red line” for Israel and “when they crossed this red line, we operated. We acted.”
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, in a statement not in reaction to the airstrike reports, said on Friday that he did not foresee sending U.S. ground troops into Syria.

Obama was asked at a news conference in Costa Rica what he might do if more evidence of Syrian use of chemical weapons emerges.

The president said that as commander in chief he did not like to rule things out, but that he did not foresee a scenario in which American boots on the ground would be good for the U.S. or good for Syria.

Leaders he's consulted in the region agree, Obama said.

The president said that the U.S. was pressuring the Syrian government in other ways. And if systematic use of chemical weapons is confirmed, the United States will present that evidence to the international community, he said.

The CNN report said that during the time period of the attack, the United States had collected information showing Israeli warplanes overflying Lebanon.

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