Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Israel Hits Syrian Weapons Convoy Near Lebanon Border

NICOSIA (AFP) — Israeli forces carried out an air strike overnight on a weapons convoy from Syria near the Lebanese border, security sources told AFP on Jan. 30, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The attack came after Israel expressed concerns that Damascus’ stockpile of chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group, an ally of the Syrian regime, or other militant organizations. Israeli officials have said such that a transfer would be a casus belli and likely would spark an Israeli attack.

Sources differed on whether the strike took place on Syrian or Lebanese territory.

“The Israeli air force blew up a convoy that had just crossed the border from Syria into Lebanon,” one source said, adding that the convoy was believed to be carrying weapons, without specifying the type. An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

A second security source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, also confirmed to AFP that Israeli warplanes had hit a convoy allegedly carrying weapons to Lebanon but said the incident occurred just inside Syria.

“It was an armed convoy traveling towards Lebanon, but it was hit on the Syrian side of the border at around 2330 GMT,” the source said.

As well as concerns about Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, Israel has accused Syria of supplying long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah. It has also warned about the dangers of other advanced weaponry falling into the Lebanese militia’s hands, such as anti-aircraft systems and surface-to-surface missiles.

Ahead of the strike, both sources reported a high level of “unusual” Israeli activity over Lebanese airspace, beginning the evening of Jan. 29 and continuing overnight.