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Photo: AFP
Bashar Assad. Given warning
Photo: AFP
Report: Israel warns Assad not to retaliate to airstrikes
Israeli senior official tells New York Times Israel considering further military strikes on Syria to stop transfer of weapons to Hezbollah. 'If Assad reacts, he will risk forfeiting his regime,' he says
A senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday that Israel was considering further military strikes on Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants, and warned Syrian president Bashar Assad, that his government would face crippling consequences if it retaliated against Israel, the New York Times reported.

 

“Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah . The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region," the official said in an interview.

 

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“If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies,” the official said, “he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”

 

The newspaper noted that the Israeli official has been briefed by high-level officials on the Syria situation in the past two days and had contacted The New York Times on Wednesday.

 

The paper considered the timing of the statements. "The precise motives for Israel’s warning were uncertain: Israel could be trying to restrain Syria’s behavior without undertaking further military action, or alerting other countries to another strike. That would ratchet up the tension in an already fraught situation in Syria," the report said.

 

Foreign reports claim Israel carried out a total of three airstrikes in Syria since the civil war there began two years ago. The first allegedly took place in January when a convoy was bombed near the Syria-Lebanon border.

 

The target was reported to have been an arms shipment to Hezbollah that included Russian-made SA-17 missiles – possibly "game changing" weapons in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Damascus later conceded there had been an attack claiming the target was a military research center in Jamraya.

 

The second airstrike allegedly occurred in early May and was reported by US media. The target was an arms shipment from Iran to Hezbollah. Another strike was reported 48 hours later. According to Syria, the Jamraya military center had been bombed again.

 

Israel did not comment on the reports.

 

 

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