An Israeli official said on Saturday that Israeli warplanes had targeted a shipment of missiles in Syria believed to be en route to Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon.
The air strike took place on Friday after it was approved in a secret meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet on Thursday night, the official said on condition of anonymity.
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Earlier Saturday, a security source in the region confirmed Israeli warplanes carried out an air strike in Syria. The target remains unclear, however it was not a Syrian chemical weapons facility, the source said.
Israeli F16 (Photo: Gettyimages)
A US official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters on Friday the air strike apparently targeted a building and not a convoy.
The officials say the shipment was not of chemical arms, but of "game changing" weapons bound for Hezbollah. They say the airstrike was early Friday. They did not say where it took place.
CNN quoted unnamed US officials as saying Israel most likely conducted the strike "in the Thursday-Friday time frame" and its jets did not enter Syrian air space.
Bashar Ja'afari, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, told Reuters: "I'm not aware of any attack right now."
Syria's assistant information minister, Khalaf Muftah, told Hezbollah's al-Manar TV that he has "no information about an aggression that was staged," and said reports of an Israeli air raid "come in the framework of psychological war in preparation of an aggression against Syria."
Syrian rebel commander Qassim Saadedine confirmed the reports on Saturday that an Israeli strike targeted a convoy of missiles sent to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
"Our information indicates there was an Israeli strike on a convoy that was transferring missiles to Hezbollah. We have still not confirmed the location," said Saadedine, a defected colonel, speaking to Reuters by telephone from his base on the Turkish-Syrian border.
Lebanon's Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansou, responded to reports that IAF jets attacked targets in Syria from Lebanese airspace.
"These attacks will only increase the tension and the volatility of the situation," Mansou said, warning that the Israeli action hinders regional peace and security, inflaming already high tensions. He called on the international community to intervene in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701.
Lebanese authorities reported unusual intensive Israeli Air Force activity over their territory on Thursday and Friday.
A Lebanese security source said his initial impression was that Israeli overflights were monitoring potential arms shipments between Syria and Lebanon.
"We believe that it is linked to Israel's concerns over the transfer of weapons, particularly chemical weapons, from Syria to its allies Lebanon," said the official, who asked not to be named.
The Israeli air force has so-called "standoff" bombs that coast dozens of kilometers (miles) across ground to their targets once fired. That could, in theory, allow Israel to attack Syria from its own turf or from neighboring Lebanon.
The CNN report said that during the time frame of the attack, the United States had collected information showing Israeli warplanes overflying Lebanon.
In January this year, Israel bombed a convoy in Syria, apparently hitting weapons destined for Hezbollah, according to diplomats, Syrian rebels and security sources in the region.
Israel has not formally confirmed carrying out that strike.
On Friday, two Israeli warplanes reportedly penetrated Lebanese airspace and soared for about three hours above the capital Beirut, according to a report by the Lebanese military.
Earlier in the day, Lebanese news site El-Nashra reported IAF aircraft were hovering in the country's aerial space near the southern towns of Bint Jbeil and Marjayoun and were apparently carrying out simulated attacks.
A military source quoted by the site said, "These are simulated attacks the likes of which we have not seen."
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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