Saturday, May 04, 2013

  • Saturday, May 04, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
On Friday night:

Hours after the first reports of an Israeli strike in Syria, details about the mysterious attack continue to emerge.

The New York Times reported Saturday that the airstrike was directed at a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran that Israel believed was intended for Hezbollah, according to American officials.

The missiles, known as Fateh-110s, had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus when they were struck in the attack, one American official said.

According to the paper, Syrians with knowledge of security and military matters confirmed the strike, saying that Iran had sent arms and rockets to Damascus International Airport intending to resend them to Hezbollah.

Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have used Fateh-110 missiles against the Syrian opposition, and some American officials are unsure whether the new shipment was intended for use by Hezbollah or by the Assad government, which is believed to be running low on missiles.

One American official, said the warehouse that was struck in the Israeli attack was believed to be under the control of operatives from Hezbollah and Iran’s paramilitary Quds force.

Also Saturday, a source at a rebel intelligence unit in Damascus said that F-16 jets carried out three strikes on the road connecting Damascus and Beirut.

One of the strikes, he said, hit a site near the Syrian army's fourth armored division in the city of al-Saboura. According to foreign sources, the jets carried out the attacks from Lebanese airspace.

The rebel source said that the attack targeted a Hezbollah-bound anti-aircraft missile convoy but according to recent estimates they were surface-to-surface missiles.

Earlier on Saturday, an Israeli official told the Associated Press that the shipment was not of chemical arms, but of "game changing" weapons bound for Hezbollah.
Everything is speculation, of course, although the idea that the targets are advanced weapons intended for Hezbollah makes sense.

But the newest reported attacks seem different:
Israeli warplanes bombed the outskirts of Damascus early Sunday for the second time in two days, according to Syrian state media and reports from activists, signaling a sharp escalation in tensions between the neighboring countries that had already been exacerbated by the conflict raging in Syria.

Videos posted on the Internet by activists showed a huge fireball erupting on Mount Qassioun, a landmark hill overlooking the capital on which the Syrian government has concentrated much of the firepower it is using against rebel-controlled areas surrounding the city.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said that a scientific research facility had been struck by an Israeli missile, and a banner displayed on state television said the attack was intended to relieve pressure on rebel forces in the embattled eastern suburbs. The banner was accompanied by martial music and footage of Syrian soldiers marching, descending from helicopters and firing rockets, indicating that Syria may not shrug off the assault, as it has with some Israeli strikes in the past.

A subsequent video suggested further strikes were taking place in the same location, though the number was unclear.

There was no immediate confirmation that the strikes were carried out by Israeli warplanes. Reuters news service reported that an Israeli military spokeswoman said, “We don’t respond to this kind of report.”
This sounds, and looks, like attacks on a weapons depot, not on weapons in transit.



And the explosion shown here is spectacular:



We don't even know that these are Israeli airstrikes - Syria TV is hardly a trustworthy source. But until now, Israel seemed to be targeting Hezbollah assets (or assets-to-be) while this last apparent attack looks a lot more like it is going after Syrian assets.

I'm no expert, but this looked more like a secondary explosion to me than a huge bomb dropped from an airstrike.


UPDATE: Again, take this with a grain of salt:
An Israeli warplane was shot down by Syrian air-defense units during a raid near Damascus early Sunday, Hezbollah's Manar television station reported, citing security sources in the Syrian capital.

There was no independent confirmation of the claim and Israel did not comment on the raid reports.
But then read this:

(h/t Daled Amos, David G)



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