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Middle east

Israeli warplanes strike Syrian weapons facility

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-04

Israeli officals have confirmed the country’s air force carried out a strike against Syria early on Friday, saying it targeted a shipment of ‘game changing’ weapons bound for the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group.

Israeli officials have confirmed the country's air force carried out a strike against Syria, saying it targeted a shipment of advanced missiles believed en route to Hezbollah guerrillas in neighbouring Lebanon.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a secret military issue, say the shipment was not of chemical arms, but of sophisticated “game changing'' weapons. One official said the target was a shipment of advanced, long-range ground-to-ground missiles.

They said the airstrike took place early on Friday, but did not elaborate on where it took place, after it was approved in a secret meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet on Thursday night.

Israel is showing increasing concern about weapons in Syria - its "red line"

Netanyahu has repeatedly warned in recent weeks that Israel would be prepared to take military action if chemical
weapons or other arms that would upset the balance of power with Hezbollah
were to reach the Islamic militant group.

In January, an Israeli airstrike hit a convoy believed to be carrying
advanced anti-aircraft weapons to Hezbollah.

FRANCE 24's correspondent in Jerusalem, Gallagher Fenwick, said of Friday's strike, “Israel is doing everything it needs to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of Israel’s enemy Hezbollah”.

In 2007, Israeli jets bombed a suspected nuclear reactor site along the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria, an attack that embarrassed and jolted the Assad regime and led to a buildup of the Syrian air defense system. Russia provided the hardware for the defense systems upgrade and continues to be a reliable supplier of military equipment to the Assad regime.

The new strike came hours before President Barack Obama told reporters at a news conference in Costa Rica on Friday that he didn’t foresee a scenario in which the US would send troops to Syria.

But a day earlier, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the US no longer ruled out arming rebels and more concretely the Free Syrian Army, FRANCE 24’s Philip Crowther in Washington said.

“The White House has asked for all options to be put on the table by the Pentagon and that includes no-fly zones, airstrikes, the arming of rebels, but the US is clearly very reluctant to go either of these ways right now,” Crowther added.

More than 70,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have fled the country since Syria's civil war broke out over two years ago. 
 

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-05-04

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