‘Scandalous’: Israel fumes as US officials spill the beans on Syrian missile strike
After sources in the Obama administration said Israel was responsible for Wednesday’s attack on a Syrian missile base, an Israeli analyst warned that the US risks starting ‘a very major flare-up.’
The Israeli Air Force struck a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia, targeting Russian-made SA 125 missiles that Israel claims were set to be transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon, a security official told AP.
A White House official confirmed the attack happened overnight Thursday, but provided no additional information.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the attack.
However, neither Israel nor Syria confirmed that a military strike of any sort had occurred.
Israel abides by a policy of never commenting on such incidences; rather, Tel Aviv reiterated that Israel will not allow advanced weapons to pass into the hands of Hezbollah via Syrian territory.
The accusation prompted a harsh rebuke on Friday night from Israeli Channel 10, which called the American leak “scandalous,” adding that it was “unthinkable” for Israel’s ally to be acting in such a way.
Israel’s Channel 2, as quoted by the Times of Israel, said the leak “came directly from the White House,”and noted that “this is not the first time” that the Obama administration has pointed the finger at Israel, following a number of raids on Syrian targets.
The channel went so far as to suggest that consideration had been given to establishing a panel to investigate the sources, believed to be inside the Pentagon, although it gave no indication as to how a foreign government could possibly invoke such a measure against another country’s military command center.
Channel 2′s military analyst, Roni Daniel, said Israel’s policy of remaining silent on whether it carried out such attacks permitted it to maintain plausible deniability, so that Syria’s President Bashar Assad did not feel compelled to respond to the attacks.
However, this seems to have been a large leap of faith on the part of the Israeli government, since Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Moallem, warned at the end of May “if Israel attacks again, we will retaliate immediately."
The Israeli political pundit argued the White House, by publicly leaking news of Israel’s actions, “are pushing Assad closer to the point where he can’t swallow these attacks, and will respond.” Daniel concluded: “Then perhaps the US will clap its hands because it will have started a very major flare-up.”
This is not the first time Israel has been accused by the United States for carrying out attacks on Syrian territory. On July 5, 2013, the Israeli Air Force was suspected of targeting a military installation in Latakia that allegedly housed Russian Yakhont anti-ship missiles, an advanced weapon that Israeli officials previously said they would not allow to reach Syria.
News of Israel’s purported attack comes amid the Syrian civil war that nearly attracted US military intervention, following a mysterious chemical weapons attack on August 21 in the suburbs of Damascus that resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries.
With military action looking imminent, Russian President Vladimir Putin succeeded in advancing an agreed plan that would have Syria destroy all of it chemical weapons, under the auspices of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Thus far, the Syrian government has been cooperating with the investigators amid a tense atmosphere both inside the country, and, as indicated by Israel’s apparent actions, outside as well.