Sunday, December 7, 2014

Israeli Jets Strike Sites Near Damascus

Syrian TV: Israeli Jets Strike Near Damascus

Israeli fighter jets launched airstrikes on two military sites outside Damascus, Syrian state media and local activists reported Sunday. Israel made no official comment on the reports. Israeli media speculated that missiles intended by Syria for delivery to Hezbollah were targeted.
The Israeli jets hit military sites at Damascus’s main airport and at the town of Dimas on a key road near the Syrian-Lebanese border, the reports stated.
The alleged attack was reported by Syria’s official SANA news agency and by Shiite terror group Hezbollah’s official television station al-Manar, as well as the the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria.

“The Israeli enemy attacked Syria by targeting two security areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the area of Damascus International Airport,” said SANA, adding that no casualties were reported.
SANA called the attack “an aggression against Syria.”
Syrian TV and Hezbollah media outlets said the attack was intended by Israel to “help the terrorists” against whom the Assad regime is engaged in a bitter war.
The Syrian armed forces’ general command said Sunday’s “flagrant attack” caused material damage, but did not provide any details.

“This aggression demonstrates Israel’s direct involvement in supporting terrorism in Syria along with well-known regional and Western countries to raise the morale of terrorist groups, mainly the Nusra Front,” the military said in a statement carried by SANA.
There is no evidence Israel has provided any support to the Nusra Front, which is al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria.
Israeli officials did not respond to the reports or make any comment on the alleged attack. Israel’s policy has been to prevent the transfer from Syria of long-range missiles to Hezbollah.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Dimas was a military position. The Observatory also said the strike near the Damascus airport hit a warehouse, although it was unclear what was in the building. Operations at the Damascus international airport are both civilian and military.
According to the Observatory, around 10 explosions could be heard outside a military area near Dimas. It had no word on casualties in either strike.

Channel 2 speculated that the strike near Damascus airport might have targeted weaponry stored after delivery at the airport, and noted that Dimas target was on a road from Damascus to Beirut — the anticipated potential starting point of weapons deliveries to Hezbollah, it said.
It also quoted Israel’s National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen saying recently that the “Middle East arms race has heated up” of late.
Israeli analysts noted that neither Syrian or Hezbollah officials threatened to hit back against Israel, but did reiterate their determination to “fight terrorism.”

Suspected Israeli aircraft bombed a military complex on the outskirts of Damascus’ international airport Sunday in what Syrian state television said was an attack on warehouses housing an advance Russian-made anti-aircraft system.
The attack would be consistent with repeated Israeli pledges that it would not allow Syria to deploy the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system and raised the question of whether Russia had sent new components of the system to Syria, perhaps in violation of an August pledge not to complete delivery under terms of a United Nations arms embargo.
The Israeli military offered no comment on the report.
The government-operated Syrian Arab News Agency blamed Israel directly for the strikes and said they targeted “two safe areas in the Damascus countryside in al Dimas and near Damascus International Airport.”
The Russian sale of the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Syria has long been controversial. Israel first objected to the sale when it was agreed to in 2007, fearing that the system, with a range of nearly 50 miles, would allow the Syrians to down Israeli aircraft while still in Israeli airspace. Considered one of the most sophisticated anti-aircraft defense systems in the world, it is said to be able to track as many as 100 targets simultaneously.
It’s unclear if the delivered components have any significant military value or could be used for purposes other than the S-300. It’s also unknown if the components might be of use to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite Muslim political movement that has waged war against Israel for decades.
Israel has warned that it would strike Syrian targets if it saw any effort to transfer war technology to Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to help defend the government of President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to topple him from power.

Syria called on the United Nations to impose sanctions on Israel Sunday, hours after Damascus alleged Israeli planes struck two sites near Damascus.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said it sent letters to the UN Security Council and to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accusing Israel of carrying out the air raids to cover up its own internal problems and calling for action against Israel to ensure the attacks do not continue.

“The Syrian government called for imposing deterring sanctions on Israel, which did not hide its policy in supporting terrorism, calling also for taking all procedures, in accordance with the UN Charter, to prevent Israel from repeating such attacks,” the Damascus-run SANA news agency reported.

Earlier in the day, SANA reported that Israeli jets struck military sites near the Damascus International Airport and in the town of Dimas, near the border with Lebanon.

Syrian President Bashar Assad did not even attempt to suppress information on what appeared to be an attack by the Israeli Air Force Sunday on a weapons cache destined for Hezbollah.

In fact, Assad, who is currently in control of only a small portion of his country, spread word of the attack far and wide and officials provided regime-friendly media outlets with plenty of information regarding the strike, in an attempt to garner the support of the Syrian people.

This was reportedly not just a single shot, but a volley of at least 10 different bombardments aimed at destroying two arms warehouses — one near Damascus’s international airport and the other at an additional airport in Dimas, east of the capital.

There were no injuries, according to reports, but nevertheless, Syrian authorities chose to issue speedy verbal responses to the incident, accusing Israel of “aiding terrorists” operating in the country. (Israeli officials declined to respond to the reports.)

Assad’s almost childish effort to rally the public in his favor, however, is highly unlikely to succeed. An examination of the responses to the airstrike on a variety of Syrian opposition sites, including secular ones, clearly shows that the loathing of the Syrian president is far greater than resentment of Israel.
These sites make fun of Assad for the cowardice he displays in the face of Israeli attacks, which have been reported for years, despite the fact that he has vowed to respond to aggression on Syrian soil.

For now, it seems Assad does not want to — or cannot — act against Israel. It can be assumed that, had the Syrian president been able to respond to the strike, he would have done so already rather than issue harmless statements. So, one can cautiously predict that Assad will once again opt to ignore the alleged Israeli attack and not risk trouble on an additional front.
And yet it should still be noted that in today’s Middle East, it is difficult if not impossible to predict how a leader will react, despite a clear pattern in recent years.
Assad has another option, though.
He can respond to the strike, not directly, but through subcontractors, without leaving any unnecessary fingerprints. In other words, Assad can allow Hezbollah, or any other organization affiliated with him, to launch attacks on Israeli targets in the Syrian Golan Heights.
Following a strike on a Hezbollah convoy in Lebanon in February, the Shiite terror organization responded with a series of detonations of explosive charges along the northern border.

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