(Carl) Israel Radio is reporting (9:00 am) that Kuwaiti daily al-Watan reported in Thursday’s editions that Syria has already transferred chemical weapons to Syria, including more than two tons of mustard gas. According to the report, Syria has also transferred missiles with a 300-kilometer range that are capable of delivering the chemical weapons. The use of the weapons is being supervised by high-ranking Syrian officers stationed in Lebanon.
There is no confirmation of the report from other sources.
(US officials say Israel notified them of Syrian attack, target was sophisticated SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles) Although, Israel has not confirmed it, American officials have told the New York Times that Israel notified the US that it attacked a convoy of weapons headed for Hezbullah in Lebanon. The weapons in question were sophisticated SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles (Hat Tip: Herb G).
The American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Israel had notified the United States about the attack, which the Syrian government condemned as an act of “arrogance and aggression.” Israel’s move demonstrated its determination to ensure that Hezbollah — its arch foe in the north — is unable to take advantage of the chaos in Syria to bolster its arsenal significantly.
The predawn strike was the first time in more than five years that Israel’s air force had attacked a target in Syria. While there was no expectation that the beleaguered Assad government had an interest in retaliating, the strike raised concerns that the Syrian civil war had continued to spread beyond its border.
In a statement, the Syrian military denied that a convoy had been struck. It said the attack had hit a scientific research facility in the Damascus suburbs that was used to improve Syria’s defenses, and called the attack “a flagrant breach of Syrian sovereignty and airspace.”
Israeli officials would not confirm the airstrike, a common tactic here. But it came after days of intense security consultations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the possible movement of chemical and other weapons around Syria, and warnings that Jerusalem would take action to thwart any possible transfers to Hezbollah.Thousands of Israelis have crowded gas-mask distribution centers over the last two days. On Sunday, Israel deployed its Iron Dome missile defense system in the north, near Haifa, which was heavily bombed during the 2006 war with Lebanon.
(Carl) Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explains why the SA-17’s matter.
“Israel is able to fly reconnaissance flights over Lebanon with impunity right now,” Mr. Levitt said. “This could cut into its ability to conduct aerial intelligence. The passing along of weapons to Hezbollah by the regime is a real concern.”
The SA-17 is an advanced antiaircraft missile with a low radar signature, which makes it difficult to target it. It possesses a range of approximately 25 kilometers, and the IAF considers them a danger to its freedom of operation in the region.