Just putting this on your news radar in case it’s a prelude to something much bigger. Haaretz and the JPost can’t independently confirm that anything more specific than a “target” was hit, but AFP says it was a convoy of some kind:
Israel forces carried out an air strike overnight on a weapons convoy from Syria near the Lebanese border, security sources told AFP on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity…
“The Israeli air force blew up a convoy that had just crossed the border from Syria into Lebanon,” one source said, without giving a precise location.
The source said the convoy was believed to be carrying weapons but did not specify what type…
A second security source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to 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.
Not that Assad needs a reason at this point to attack a neighbor if he’s inclined for whatever odd strategic reason to try to widen the war, but a bombing inside Syria would give it to him. As for the weapons involved, Israeli sources told Haaretz that they’re worried about even “advanced conventional weapons” being transferred to Hezbollah, but if you read this CBS report on Sunday you know what they’re chiefly concerned about. Netanyahu held a secret meeting with his security cabinet the morning after election day last week, an unusual moment at which to huddle about threats. Whatever happened to get his attention must have been awfully pressing. More from Haaretz on this morning’s strike:
The reported attack came soon after the Lebanese media said that Israel Air Force jets had flown over Lebanon’s air space in three separate missions late Tuesday and early Wednesday. There was no confirmation of that report from Israel.
Earlier this week, the Lebanon Army reported that the IAF had violated Lebanon’s airspace on Saturday in four different incidents. The Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported that IAF fighter jets were seen flying around the Beka’a Valley.
Also Saturday, the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal said that an explosion struck a weapons storage facility in an area of southern Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah. The report was not confirmed by Lebanon’s government or by the Lebanese army. The latter said it had conducted a number of controlled explosions on Saturday of munitions left over from the Second Lebanon War.
Israel’s taking more conventional defensive measures too, having recently moved two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to the north of the country presumably in the expectation of an attack by Assad and/or Hezbollah. I’ve always assumed that Assad is most likely to transfer chemical weapons to Hezbollah if/when he’s finally facing the end in Syria, but according to some reports, he’s turned the tide and might hold on for a good long while yet. In that case, what strategic end is served by trying to drag Israel into the war with a WMD scare? Or maybe the reports of Assad holding on are all wrong and he really is in desperation mode?
One possibility is that the rumors last week about a massive explosion at Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility are all true and Iran’s now planning to retaliate for the sabotage with an attack on Israel via their Syrian and Lebanese proxies. But we’re more than a week removed from when the Fordo explosion allegedly happened and there’s still no hard evidence of it. The White House says it doesn’t believe the reports and UN nuclear inspectors announced yesterday that Iran’s denials of any explosion are consistent with their own observations. The Times of London did cite “Israeli intelligence officials” who claim the explosion happened but a friend of mine who’s involved in Israeli politics says he’s skeptical of that report. Stay tuned.
Update: Ah, maybe it was “advanced conventional weapons” after all:
A source in the region told Al-Monitor the alleged target was said to be anti-aircraft missiles, or a convoy of anti-aircraft missiles, but that could not be confirmed.
Syria possesses sophisticated, Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. Israel would consider it a “game changer” if Hezbollah, Lebanon, or Iran would acquire them, that would “change the balance of power” between Israel and Hezbollah, and interfere with Israel’s ability to overfly Lebanon and deter Hezbollah, a regional security expert told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity Wednesday.