Media in the Arabic world reported over the weekend that Israel attacked targets on the ground in Syrian twice within 48 hours to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. Al-Arabiya TV reported (Arabic link) that the first attack took place on Wednesday night in the mountains of Qalamoun, near the border with Lebanon. Tthe attack reportedly destroyed a Hezbollah’s weapons convoy. Al-Jazeera TV reported (Arabic link) that Israeli aircraft carried out another attack in that area on Friday night, reportedly targeting weapons caches belonging to the Syrian army.
The Times of Israel provided further details:
On Saturday, according to a report in al-Jazeera, the Syrian targets were divisions 155 and 65 of the Assad army, in charge of “strategic weapons.” Al-Arabiya reported that the targets were Scud missile depots housed in the military bases.
Several explosions were heard in the areas of Kteife, Yabrud and a village in Kalamun, according to al-Jazeera on Saturday.
The area is known as a Syrian military site housing weapons depots and installations.
According to some reports, Syrian soldiers were killed in the attacks, as well as Hezbollah militants and members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which helps the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war against the rebels.
If the reports are true, fear of weapons transfers to Hezbollah likely prompted the raids. Hezbollah could use advanced missiles to threaten strategic Israeli facilities. The Shiite terror organization is trying to restock its arsenal, which was severely depleted by the organization’s involvement in the civil war in Syria.
The efforts of Syria and Iran to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah are directly connected to the state of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. Such efforts are increasing in light of losses by the regime and its supporters in their battles against the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda allied al-Nusra Front in the Damascus area and on the border with Lebanon.
The attacks against weapon supplies leaves Hezbollah with a dilemma over whether to respond militarily to the event. The organization has not yet responded to the attacks, and it is unclear whether it will do so in the near future, out of a desire to avoid opening an additional front while it is deeply involved in Syria. However, the organization has threatened in the past that it would respond to attacks carried out against Syrian territory. Hezbollah responded after Hezbollah leader Jihad Mughniyeh and Iranian officers was killed in an air strike, thought to have been carried out by Israel, that hit a Hezbollah convoy in the Syrian Golan Heights; the response led to the death of two Israeli soldiers. Either way, tension and vigilance are expected to continue in Israel’s northern region.
This past December, Israel is believed to have destroyed a weapons depot near Damascus.
It was reported Friday that Hezbollah has built a drone base in Lebanon near the Syrian border.
[ Photo: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr]