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Israeli Warplanes Reportedly Strike Russian Missiles In Syria
Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 8:57 am
Unnamed U.S. officials have told CNN and The Associated Press that Israeli warplanes destroyed a shipment of Russian missiles at a Syrian airbase. But officials in Tel Aviv won't comment on the reported attack near the port of Latakia overnight on Wednesday.
"We're not commenting on these reports," a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Ministry told Reuters.
Reuters also reported an explosion in the area and said one Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he thought that Israel had carried out a strike, but stressed that he was not entirely certain.
NPR's Emily Harris, reporting from Jerusalem, says:
"Israel has long made it clear it doesn't want to get involved in the Syrian civil war, but will attack weapons in Syria it believes are being transferred to Hezbollah, the militant Islamist organization based in Lebanon, along Israel's northern border."
"It is also a standard Israeli practice to not comment when such attacks happen," Harris says. "Reports of the explosion at the Syrian airbase quickly alleged Israeli involvement, and suggested the target was Russian made missiles. There have been four previous reports this year of Israeli attacks on weapons in Syria. After one attack in July, like now, unnamed U.S. officials said Israel carried out the strike."
"Israel has repeatedly declared a series of red lines that could trigger Israeli military intervention, including the delivery of "game-changing" weapons to the Syrian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group.
Israel has never officially confirmed taking action inside Syria to avoid embarrassing [President Bashar] Assad and sparking a potential response. But foreign officials say it has done so several times when Israeli intelligence determined that sophisticated missiles were on the move.
In January, an Israeli airstrike in Syria destroyed a shipment of advanced anti-aircraft missiles bound for Hezbollah, according to U.S. officials. And in May, it was said to have acted again, taking out a shipment of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles at a Damascus airport."