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In Rare Attack, Israel Drops Bombs on Syria, Killing Two

israel-strikes-syrian-convoy-fighter-jetsEver the aggressor, Israel inserted itself further into the conflict in Syria by flying fighter jets across the border and dropping bombs on Syrian targets. There is some dispute about whether the bombs hit a convoy of trucks carrying weapons into Lebanon, as Western diplomats and Lebanese security forces claim, or if they hit a scientific research center, as the Syrians claim.

The Syrian news agency, SANA, reported that the Israeli bombs killed two people and injured five at their research facility. It may be in Syria’s best interest to deny that the bombs hit a convoy of trucks, because that would give credence to Israel’s claim that Syrian President Bashar Assad is feeding arms to Hezbollah, the dominant power in Lebanon that long has been a sworn enemy of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fears that Assad will send chemical weapons or anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah to be used against Israelis.

The Syrian government called the attack an act of “arrogance and aggression” and “a flagrant breach of Syrian sovereignty and airspace,” according to The New York Times.

Syrian rebels fighting against Assad also confirmed that the Israeli air strike hit a convoy of trucks inside Syria, but near Lebanon’s border.

Syria’s neighbors in the Middle East have been keeping a close eye on the Syrian conflict, believing that Assad may decide to use deadly chemical weapons on the  rebels if he becomes desperate to hold onto power.

Meanwhile Russia, one of Syria’s few allies, condemned the attack and said it was unacceptable, regardless of the reason.

“If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the U.N. charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement issued earlier today.

According to The New York Times, the Israeli government informed the U.S. before it conducted the air strike on the trucks, which The Times reports were carrying “sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry.”

It was the first time in more than five years that the Israeli military has struck a target in Syria. Though Israel and Syria never declared a ceasefire of their war of 40 years ago, conflict between the two countries is rare.

Israelis buy gas masks

Israelis buy gas masks

Most observers don’t expect Assad, too embroiled in his own troubles with rebels, to retaliate against Israel.

“It is necessary and correct to prepare for deterioration — that scenario exists,” Danny Yatom, a former chief of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, told Ynet, a news site. “But in my assessment, there will not be a reaction, because neither Hezbollah nor the Syrians have an interest in retaliating.”

Assad “is deep in his own troubles,” Yatom said, “and Hezbollah is making a great effort to assist him, in parallel with its efforts to obtain weapons, so they won’t want to broaden the circle of fighting.”

But there was enough fear of a chemical weapons retaliation in Israel that thousands of Israelis have crowded into gas-mask distribution centers over the last two days to be prepared, according to The Times.

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