Israel has confirmed that it has struck a military convoy in Syria, which was carrying anti-aircraft weapons destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israeli officials have voiced concerns that chemical weapons and missiles could fall into the hands of militants in Lebanon.
Syria has confirmed that the Israelis attacked a target in its territory, but denies that is was a military convoy, claiming that it was a military scientific research center outside the capital Damascus, in which two people were killed and five were injured.
According to the Huffington Post Canada,
regional security officials have stated that the airstrike targeted a site near the Lebanese border, which is denied by a Syrian Army statement. The officials stated that the shipment included sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles. This could be a game changer in that it would permit militants to shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones.
According to the New York Times
, officials who spoke under condition of anonymity said that Israel had notified the US of its intentions to attack. The Department of State would not comment on the airstrike.
Russia, a staunch ally of Syria, said that it was taking urgent measures to clarify the situation and all its details. In a statement the foreign ministry said:
"If this information is confirmed, we have a case of unprovoked attacks on targets in the territory of a sovereign state, which grossly violates the U.N. Charter and is unacceptable. Whatever the motives, this is not justified."
Iran's foreign minister said that the airstrike was a clear violation of Syria's sovereignty. Iran has said in the past that it would consider an attack on Syria as an attack on its own territory. While there is talk of retaliation
, analysts believe that this is unlikely to happen. Syria is involved in its own internal conflict, which has killed more than 60,000 people and has caused hundreds of thousands of Syrians to flee the country.
Syria and Iran have threatened to retaliate for an Israeli air raid near the capital Damascus.
Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said Damascus has "the option and the surprise to retaliate." He said he cannot predict when the retaliation will be, saying it is up to relevant authorities to prepare for it.
In Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Thursday as saying the raid on Syria will have significant implications for the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
On the other end, Israel will have made its point and future air strikes are not likely. There will be the usual condemnation of Israel by the international community. Russia, based on its findings, is likely to raise the issue in the UN Security Council, but any attempts of a resolution against Israel will be scuttled with a US veto.