Israel carried out an airstrike against Syria on Thursday in what U.S. officials believe was an attempt to stop a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran intended for the militant Lebanese organization Hezbollah.
A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Friday night said in a statement, “Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, specially to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Israeli has said repeatedly that they will stop any shipments of advanced arms or chemical weapons to Hezbollah. The alleged missile shipment of Fateh-110s would have given Hezbollah the ability to strike deep within Israel.
An American official said the missiles from Iran were stored at Damascus International Airport in Syria, where the strike took place. American officials are unsure if the missiles were actually intended for use by Hezbollah or by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, which is presumed to be running low on weapons.
Richard Spence, a Middle East correspondent, told The Telegraph that the bombing was “a message” to Iran and the U.S., who is determined not to interfere in Syria. Reporting from the Turkish-Syriah border, Spence said Israel is determined not to fight Iran on two separate fronts.
Israel launched similar airstrikes in Syria in late January, destroying a convoy of SA-17 antiaircraft weapons, which would have made the Israeli Air Force’s operations in Lebanese airspace risky. Although, Israel did not formally confirm that attack, former defense minister Ehud Barak seemed to refer to it as “another proof that when we say something we mean it.”