Israel has claimed responsibility for a strike against Syria, saying its Air Force targeted a shipment of advanced missiles.
The Israeli officials said on Saturday that the shipment was not of chemical arms, but of “game changing” weapons bound for the Lebanese Hezbollah group.
They officials who spoke on condition of anonymity disclosed that the airstrike was early on Friday, but no mention was made of where it took place.
Following the strike, Defence Ministry strategist, Amos Gilad, said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad retains control of Syria’s reputed chemical weapons and they are not sought by his Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.
“Syria has large amounts of chemical weaponry and missiles. Everything there is under (Assad government) control,” Gilad said in a speech.
“Hezbollah does not have chemical weaponry. We have ways of knowing. They are not keen to take weaponry like this, preferring systems that can cover all of the country (Israel),” he said.
Earlier this week, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said his group would assist Assad if needed in the effort to put down a 2-year-old uprising.
Israeli embassy spokesman Aaron Sagui would not comment on Friday night specifically on the report of an Israeli strike into Syria.
“What we can say is that Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, specially to Hezbollah in Lebanon,” Sagui said in an email to the AP.
Lebanese authorities reported unusual intensive Israeli air force activity over their territory on Thursday and Friday.
A Lebanese security source said his initial impression was that Israeli overflights were monitoring potential arms shipments between Syria and Lebanon, potentially to Hezbollah.
“We believe that it is linked to Israel’s concerns over the transfer of weapons, particularly chemical weapons, from Syria to its allies in Lebanon,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
The Israeli strike follows days of renewed concerns that Syria might be using chemical weapons against opposition forces.