Syria, Iran condemn Israeli air strikes near Damascus

Israeli planes hit at least two targets inside Syria near the capital of Damascus, which resulted in bitter denunciations from both Syria and Iran.

Associated Press:

Israeli warplanes struck near Damascus' international airport on Sunday, as well as outside a town close to the Lebanese border.

The attacks are unlikely to have a big impact. Israel has already struck inside Syria on several occasions in the course of the country's chaotic civil war, including a series of airstrikes near Damascus in May 2013. Those strikes, according to Israeli officials, targeted shipments of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles bound for Israel's arch foe ? the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group.

Syria's reaction has been relatively mute; in previous cases, Damascus has vowed to retaliate without carrying out any such action.

The Syrian government said Sunday's attacks caused only material damage. Israel has not confirmed the strikes, and it was not immediately clear what they targeted, although activists said they hit weapons depots.

Appearing on Israel Radio on Monday, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz would neither confirm nor deny the news, but offered a subtle hint about what might have been involved.

"We have a very potent defense policy that is oriented toward safeguarding the country and wherever possible preventing the upgrading of weaponry that gives terrorist organizations game-changers or unusually sophisticated means of attack," he said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem claimed Israel was trying to compensate for losses incurred by Islamic extremist groups in Syria at the hands of the Syrian army. He did not elaborate.

He spoke Monday at a joint news conference in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Since Syria's conflict began in March 2011, Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria that have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Hezbollah.

Although Israel has never confirmed any airstrikes in Syria, it has laid out "red lines" that define various types of weapons it says Hezbollah cannot be allowed to acquire, including sophisticated guided missiles, anti-aircraft systems and missiles that can strike Israeli warships or other naval targets.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow "is deeply concerned about this dangerous development which requires a detailed investigation."

In a statement, he said that the use of force is "unacceptable in international relations and deserves an outright condemnation."

That last quote from the Russian foreign ministry is comical, given that numerous officials have confirmed the presence of hundreds of Russian troops in Ukraine.

Iran has been trying to get sophisticated anti-aircraft and medium-range missiles to Hezb'allah for years, but Israel has sniffed them out and destroyed them before they could be transferred from Syria.  These strike are almost certainly carbon copies of previous attacks by the Israeli air force, targeting weapons that could be used against them.

Syria is not likely to retaliate, given that it is currently busy fighting for the regime's survival against terrorists.  Taking on Israel in a military conflict would be suicidal, and President Assad is not a stupid man.

But Hezb'allah might find a way to get back at the Israelis, either through an act of terror or by lobbing a missile or two at an Israeli town.  But the terrorists are also heavily engaged in Syria, and it's not likely they will move against the Jewish state – for the time being.

Israeli planes hit at least two targets inside Syria near the capital of Damascus, which resulted in bitter denunciations from both Syria and Iran.

Associated Press:

Israeli warplanes struck near Damascus' international airport on Sunday, as well as outside a town close to the Lebanese border.

The attacks are unlikely to have a big impact. Israel has already struck inside Syria on several occasions in the course of the country's chaotic civil war, including a series of airstrikes near Damascus in May 2013. Those strikes, according to Israeli officials, targeted shipments of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles bound for Israel's arch foe ? the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group.

Syria's reaction has been relatively mute; in previous cases, Damascus has vowed to retaliate without carrying out any such action.

The Syrian government said Sunday's attacks caused only material damage. Israel has not confirmed the strikes, and it was not immediately clear what they targeted, although activists said they hit weapons depots.

Appearing on Israel Radio on Monday, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz would neither confirm nor deny the news, but offered a subtle hint about what might have been involved.

"We have a very potent defense policy that is oriented toward safeguarding the country and wherever possible preventing the upgrading of weaponry that gives terrorist organizations game-changers or unusually sophisticated means of attack," he said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem claimed Israel was trying to compensate for losses incurred by Islamic extremist groups in Syria at the hands of the Syrian army. He did not elaborate.

He spoke Monday at a joint news conference in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Since Syria's conflict began in March 2011, Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria that have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Hezbollah.

Although Israel has never confirmed any airstrikes in Syria, it has laid out "red lines" that define various types of weapons it says Hezbollah cannot be allowed to acquire, including sophisticated guided missiles, anti-aircraft systems and missiles that can strike Israeli warships or other naval targets.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow "is deeply concerned about this dangerous development which requires a detailed investigation."

In a statement, he said that the use of force is "unacceptable in international relations and deserves an outright condemnation."

That last quote from the Russian foreign ministry is comical, given that numerous officials have confirmed the presence of hundreds of Russian troops in Ukraine.

Iran has been trying to get sophisticated anti-aircraft and medium-range missiles to Hezb'allah for years, but Israel has sniffed them out and destroyed them before they could be transferred from Syria.  These strike are almost certainly carbon copies of previous attacks by the Israeli air force, targeting weapons that could be used against them.

Syria is not likely to retaliate, given that it is currently busy fighting for the regime's survival against terrorists.  Taking on Israel in a military conflict would be suicidal, and President Assad is not a stupid man.

But Hezb'allah might find a way to get back at the Israelis, either through an act of terror or by lobbing a missile or two at an Israeli town.  But the terrorists are also heavily engaged in Syria, and it's not likely they will move against the Jewish state – for the time being.