Damascus (GPA) – Israeli jets have targeted what they say was a weapons convoy bound for Hezbollah overnight, the only problem is that the forces transporting the weapons were troops from the Syrian Arab Army.
An Israeli jet is alleged to have carried or bombings in both Syria and possibly Lebanese territory overnight, after bypassing areas controlled by both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in order to hit weapons being transported by the SAA. The reports are currently conflicted but it is apparently known that the Israelis hit an area controlled by the SAA’s 3rd Division in the al-Katif suburbs of Damascus.
This Israeli jet was said to have then flown outside of the perimeters of Russian air defenses, over the Arsal Barrens (a region contested by terrorist groups), to strike within Lebanon. Some outlets suspect the partial reasoning for these attacks on Lebanon are due to recent appearances by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Iranian broadcast networks.
Nasrallah had said during recent interviews that he expects more future conflicts with Israel and warned that “Hezbollah will have no red lines in the next war.” Some see this bombing raid as retaliation for Nasrallah’s warning that “Israel should think a million times before it goes to war with Lebanon.”
The Israelis may be nervous about Hezbollah since Lebanese President Michel Aoun also publicly backed Nasrallah’s statements in an interview on Egyptian television, where he said Hezbollah has a right to weapons to defend themselves from Israel. Aoun’s exact words concerning Hezbollah’s arms were that “Hezbollah weapons are not contradictory to the state, but are an essential part in defending the country. As long as a part of the territory is occupied by Israel, and as long as the army is not powerful enough to fight Israel, we feel the need to maintain the weapons of the resistance to complement the army.”
Besides the obvious reasons Israel would want to strike Hezbollah there is no real reason they should be attacking the SAA since they are engaged in a war with jihadists that keeps Israel from being the next target. Israel even pledged to remain neutral in the conflict despite carrying out multiple operations against the SAA in the past, including direct attacks on soldiers and bombing of Syrian military infrastructure such as air bases.
Despite their alleged neutrality, Israel has grown more uncomfortable over the last year by the presence of Iranian backed forces and a renewed battle tested Hezbollah operating in Syria at the request of the government in Damascus. Israel doesn’t seem to care that both of these groups have played a pivotal role in fighting back terrorist groups across the country and this continues to be the focus of their operations.
Israel claims one of their fears is that they could be next on the hit list of the terrorist groups in Syria such as IS or al-Qaeda but by their own admission they’re more worried about the counter terror operations carried or by Iran. Some Israeli leaders have said that their involvement in Syria is to make sure that they don’t end up in the jihadis’ crosshairs but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said himself that their biggest objective is to stop Iran from aiding the Syrian government and gaining regional support, despite being asked by Bashar al-Assad to enter the conflict.
It should be clear now to the world that Israel is anything but neutral in Syria, yet international bodies like the United Nations continue to let Israeli Defense Forces violate the sovereignty of their neighbors. On top of that, it now seems that besides not being neutral, Israel would rather deal with IS and al-Qaeda on their border than Assad and his allies.
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Image: Flickr – U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.