Israel Bombs Hezbollah-Bound Missiles in Syria

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 4 2013 3:39 PM

Israel Carries Out Strike in Syria Targeting Weapons Shipment to Hezbollah

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An Israeli F-16 fighter jet takes off during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots in the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert

Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP/GettyImages

Israel launched a second air strike against Syria this year early Friday morning, targeting a shipment of missiles believed to be bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Unlike the first strike though, Israeli officials were quick to confirm this one took place, albeit unofficially. The missiles were advanced surface-to-surface missiles sent from Iran that Israel believed were ultimately bound for Hezbollah. The missile in question is known as Fateh-110, which is “more accurate and represents a considerable improvement over the liquid-fueled Scud missile,” notes the New York Times. Israeli officials told the Associated Press the weapons were “game-changing” in nature.

The strike took place at around 4 a.m. Friday, a Lebanese source tells the Washington Post. It isn’t quite clear how the air strike was carried out, but it does appear Israeli warplanes hit the target from Lebanon’s airspace. Lebanese officials said they detected an unusually high number of Israeli flights in the country’s airspace on Thursday and Friday, reports Reuters.

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When Israel targeted a convoy carrying anti-aircraft missiles in January, officials never actually confirmed the attack. “The fact that officials swiftly acknowledged U.S. reports of this attack pointed to Israel’s growing determination to directly confront the threat posed by the Syrian conflict,” notes the Washington Post. The strike comes at a time when there is a debate going on in Washington over how to respond to the growing evidence that the Syrian regime may have used chemical weapons, points out the Associated Press.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.