The Israeli Air Force has carried out an air strike targeting a shipment of missiles in Syria bound for Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon, Reuters reports.
Israel had previously made it clear that it was prepared to resort to force to prevent advanced Syrian weapons, including President Bashar al-Assad’s reputed chemical arsenal, handed over to Lebanon’s powerful Shi’ite Muslim guerrillas.
Israeli government did not officially confirmed Friday’s air strike, which was disclosed to reporters by an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“There was an air strike. The target was not a chemical weapons facility. It was missiles intended for Hezbollah,” the official revealed. A U.S. official told reporters the target was apparently a building.
The attack – the second one conducted by the Israeli airforce in four months – took place after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet decided to conduct it in a secret meeting on Thursday night, a regional security source said.
According to some media, which quote unnamed U.S. officials as saying Israel most likely conducted the strike “in the Thursday-Friday time frame” and its jets did not enter Syrian air space.
The Israeli government has already urged the United States to take all the necessary measures to safe guard the Assad regime’s chemical weapons store, which is believed to be one of the largest in the world.
However, the U.S. president, Barack Obama, signaled that no decision to deepen U.S. involvement in the conflict was imminent, saying that that his country has not ruled out any options in dealing with Syria as the U.S. is urrently investigating whether the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did use chemical weapons.
Obama, who has come under fire from some critics in Washington who contend he has a muddled approach to Syria, insisted the United States is not standing by even as it waits for a chemical weapons ruling.
“We’re not waiting,” he said. “We are working to apply every pressure point that we can on Syria.”
At his news conference with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, Obama said more evidence is bound to turn up if Syria is continuing to use chemical weapons.
“If in fact there is the kind of systematic use of chemical weapons inside of Syria, we expect we are going to get additional further evidence and at that point we will absolutely present that to the international community,” Obama said.
According to the president, any additional steps taken by the United States will be based on the “facts on the ground” in Syria and what is in the best interests of the American people and U.S. national security.”
He stressed he would not be pressured prematurely into a deeper intervention into Syria.
“I’m going to make those decision based on the best evidence and after careful consultation, because when we rush into things, when we leap before we look, then not only do we pay a price but oftentimes we see unintended consequences on the ground. So it’s important that we do it right,” Obama said.