Israel strikes convoy at Syria-Lebanon border,
Foreign media claim IAF fighter jets conducted three separate aerial incursions into Lebanon’s airspace overnight. US website says target was weapons convoy; IDF remains mum
“Israeli forces have attacked a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight,” foreign and Arab media sources alleged Wednesday, saying that 12 IAF jets breached Lebanon’s airspace on Tuesday.
The US-based Al-Monitor website quoted Lebanese sources as saying the target was a weapons convoy traveling near Syria’s border with Lebanon. The report has not been corroborated by any Israeli source and the IDF refused to comment on the matter.
Earlier, Beirut’s news agency alleged that the Israeli fighter jets conducted three separate aerial incursions into Lebanon‘s airspace overnight.
According to the report, the jets flew over the En Nakura area for several hours, leaving Lebanese airspace at around 2 am. The report, citing military sources, said that the first incursion took place at around 4:30 pm, when two jets flew over the village ofRamish, leaving at 9:05 pm.
As the duo was leaving – according to the Lebanese report – two other IAF jets entered Beirut’s airspace, towards En Nakura, leaving at 2 am.
Lebanon’s State-run news agency NNA, however, denied the reports.
A Lebanese Army statement said that “Four Israeli planes entered Lebanese air space at 4:30 pm on Tuesday. They were replaced four hours later by another group of planes which overflew southern Lebanon until 2 am and a third mission took over, finally leaving at 7:55 am on Wednesday morning.”
The statement made no mention of planes entering Syrian airspace.
A western diplomat and a security source said Wednesday that “Israeli forces have attacked a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight.”
Despite the ambiguity of Lebanon’s reports, the diplomat – who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue – insisted that “There was definitely a hit in the border area.”
The Israel-Syria border (Photo: AFP)
The US-based Al-Monitor website reported Tuesday that IDF Intelligence Chief Maj-Gen. Aviv Kochavi traveled to Washington for closed-door consultations with American officials. Israeli officials would not comment on the matter.
Among those Kochavi met with at the Pentagon was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, the report said.
According to Al-Monitor The IDF declined comment on the MI chief’s visit, saying that “Israel does not comment on the working visits of IDF officers.”
However, the website qouted an anonymous Israeli official as saying that “Some people say (the) IDF wouldn’t object to (the) opportunity to set the record straight vis-à-vis Hizballah… Also, there’s the idea of putting them out of play, as done with Hamas recently.”
Israel has been following the volatile situation in Syria and neighboring Lebanon closely, as concerns grow over the possibility that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah may get hold of Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s advanced weaponry.
Assad is believed to have the largest arsenal of nonconventional warfare in the world. Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said Sunday that any sign that Syria’s grip on its chemical weapons is slipping, could trigger Israeli military strikes.
On Tuesday, IAF Chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel warned that Israel cannot remain complacent vis-à-vis the growing chaos is Syria and its possible effects on the balance of power in the region.
Earlier in the week, Israel deployed two Iron Dome batteries near the northern border.
The defense establishment’s concerns about the potential threat of chemical weapons from Syria and Hezbollah has not gone unnoticed by the Israeli public.
The Israel Postal Service reported Wednesday that more Israelis are renewing their gas masks andABC kits and that the number of Israelis changing their nonconventional warfare protection kits has nearly tripled over the past month.
Lebanon claims that Israel violates its airspace on a regular basis. In 2009, Beirut filed a complaint with the UN Security Council on the matter.
Reuters contributed to this report
Alleged airstrike comes day after Lebanon reported three separate overflights by IAF jets; Israel increasingly concerned over fate of Syrian chemical weapons.
A western diplomat and three regional security sources said Wednesday that Israel Air Force warplanes struck a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, hours after Lebanon reported a series of three overflights by Israel in its airspace.
Israel has expressed increasing concern over the fate of Syrian chemical and conventional weapons as the country slides further into chaos after almost two years of civil war.
The sources, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, had no further information about what might have been hit or where precisely the attack happened, but the news website Al-Monitor quoted unnamed sources as saying that the target had been an arms convoy in Syria, close to the Lebanon border.
A Western diplomat in the region who asked about the strike said “something has happened”, without elaborating.
An activist in Syria who works with a network of opposition groups around the country said that she had heard of a strike in southern Syria from her colleagues but could not confirm.
The IDF has declined to comment on reports of a strike on the Syrian-Lebanese border. “We do not comment on reports of this kind,” an IDF spokeswoman said.
Reports of incursions into Lebanese air space and the alleged strike follow a flurry of international visits by Israel’s top brass.
Military Intelligence head Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Tuesday reportedly traveled to Washington to meet with American officials at the Pentagon, Al-Monitor quoted defense sources as saying.
According to Al-Monitor, among those Kochavi met at the Pentagon Tuesday was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Meanwhile, National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror flew to Russia on Monday to discuss the Syrian crisis.
Amidror also reportedly discussed the issue of Syrian chemical weapons with officials in the country.