February 4, 2013

Israel hints at role in Syrian airstrike

It worries that high-end weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah, its enemy Lebanese militants.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Ehud Barak
click image to enlarge

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak attends a high-level security conference Sunday in Munich, Germany. He came close to confirming that his country was behind the airstrike in Syria last week that hit a research center and a convoy.

The Associated Press

Syrian opposition leaders and rebels have criticized Assad for not responding to the airstrike, calling it proof of his weakness and acquiescence to the Jewish state.

The Syrian defense minister, Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij, said Israel attacked the center because rebels were unable to capture it. Al-Freij called the rebels Israel's "tools."

Ahmad Ramadan, an opposition leader, said Syria's claim that the rebels are cooperating with Israel "is an attempt by the regime to cover its weakness in defending the country against foreign aggression."

PROTECTING BALANCE OF POWER

In the days preceding the airstrike, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a series of dire comments about the threat posed by Syria's weapons.

Israel considers any transfer of these advanced weapons to be unacceptable "game changers" that would alter the balance of power in the region.

Israel has grown increasingly jittery as the Arab Spring has swept through the Middle East, bringing with it a rise of hostile Islamist elements. While Assad is a bitter enemy, Israel's northern front with Syria has remained quiet for most of the past 40 years.

If Assad is toppled, the threat of al-Qaida forces operating along Israel's frontier with Syria would pose a new and unpredictable threat.

 

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