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Israel-Lebanon border (archives) Photo: Avihu Shapira
Israel-Lebanon border (archives) Photo: Avihu Shapira
 
 

Report: Israeli warplanes fly over Lebanon

Lebanon's official news agency says planes conducting 'mock raids' over south of country. Syrian rebels slam Assad inaction on alleged Israeli airstrike near Damascus on Wednesday

Roi Kais and AP
Published: 02.01.13, 23:30 / Israel News

Lebanon's official news agency reported Friday evening that Israeli warplanes had been flying over Nabatieh, al-Tufah, Marjayoun and Bint Jbeil in the south of the country since 9:30 pm.

 

According to the report, the planes were conducting "mock raids" over Lebanon.

 

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A Lebanese website reported Friday morning that Israeli warplanes were flying over the areas of Marjayoun, Hasbia and Rashaya al-Wadi in southern Lebanon, as well as over the Shebaa area and Mount Hermon.

 

The website also reported that the Israel Defense Forces was patrolling the border fence area along the Blue Line.

 

The latest overflights came after officials said Israel launched a rare airstrike Wednesday inside Syria, targeting a convoy carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese terror group allied with Syria and Iran.

 

Syrian opposition leaders and rebels slammed President Bashar Assad on Friday for not responding to the rare Israeli airstrike near Damascus, calling it proof of his weakness and acquiescence to the Jewish state.

 

The opposition's sharp reaction underlines how those seeking to topple the Syrian leader might be more prepared to tangle with Israel if they came to power.

 

"Assad never once in his life stood up to Israel," said Kamal Labwani, a prominent Syrian dissident and member of the Syrian National Coalition, an umbrella group of those trying to oust Assad. "All he ever did is `reserve the right to retaliate' but he never retaliated against anyone other than the Syrian people and the Free Syrian Army."

 

"I am 100% sure the regime will not retaliate," Mosab, a rebel fighter told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. The fighter, who was deployed near the Syrian capital, Damascus, declined to give his full name or precise location for security reasons.

 

'We know who the real enemy is'

Syria's opposition coalition criticized the government for not defending the country against the latest Israeli air raid, saying the Syrian army is too busy shelling civilian areas in Syria.

 

"This is not the first time that Israeli warplanes violated Syrian sovereignty under the eyes and ears of those who are supposed to protect it," the coalition said in its statement. "Israelis have gotten used to condemnations and strong words that turn out to be nothing more than media bubbles."

 

It is a real tragedy, the statement said, that while the regime's warplanes and helicopters bombed civilian homes in one part of Syria, Israeli jets attacked targets in another.

 

The opposition group promised the Syrian people it would use political and diplomatic means to halt such attacks and said it would establish a "deterrent force" to guard against any such future attacks.

 

Those comments raised the question about how those seeking to topple Assad would handle the thorny issue of relations with Israel if they came to power.

 

Many among Syria's disparate opposition leaders are Syrian and Arab nationalists fiercely opposed to the Jewish state.

 

Mouaz al-Khatib, a 52-year-old preacher-turned-activist, has been criticized by some for calling Zionism a "cancerous movement" and praising Iraq's late dictator Saddam Hussein for "terrorizing the Jews."

 

The umbrella group is dominated by members of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which is known for its enmity to Israel. And among the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels who are fighting to end Assad's rule, the Islamic extremists are gaining dominance.

 

Labwani, the Syrian dissident, told the AP that "unlike Assad, we know who the real enemy is."

 

"The first thing we would do is ask UN peacekeepers on the Golan to leave, and we will free occupied Syrian territory. We want all our rights."

 

 

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