What will be next?
As the implosion of Syria continues unabated, Israeli officials are increasingly worried that weapons of mass destruction positioned on Syrian soil will be used against the Jewish state. Or that they will fall into the hands of anti-Israeli forces. Or be handed over to anti-Israeli forces. Prime Minister Netanyahu and the IDF top brass are also deeply concerned about Iran’s efforts to use the chaos in Syria to divert international attention away from stopping Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. As I’ve written before on this blog — and explore in more detail in my forthcoming geopolitical thriller, Damascus Countdown — the corridor between Tel Aviv, Damascus and Tehran is the most dangerous corridor on the planet at the moment. Iran is getting closer to building The Persian Bomb. More than 40,000 people have been slaughtered inside Syria. The world is not taking decisive action to stop any of this. And there is a growing fear in the region that a countdown may have begun to something even more catastrophic happening in the not-too-distant future. I pray that it doesn’t. But governments are increasingly on edge, and for good reason.
Here’s a snapshot of the latest developments in the last 48 hours:
“Israel bombed a suspected shipment of antiaircraft missiles in Syria on Wednesday, according to regional and U.S. officials, in its most ambitious strike inside its neighbor’s territory in nearly two chaotic years of civil war there,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “The early-morning strike in a border area west of Damascus targeted a convoy of trucks carrying Russian-made SA-17 missiles to Hezbollah, the anti-Israel Shiite militant and political group in Lebanon, according to a Western official briefed on the raid.”
“Syria maintained that the accounts of a strike on an arms convoy near the country’s border with Lebanon were wrong. Instead, Syria’s military said, Israeli jets had attacked a military facility near Damascus,” the Journal reports. “‘Israeli warplanes violated our airspace at dawn today and directly struck one of the scientific research centers responsible for elevating resistance and self-defense capabilities in the area of Jamraya in the Damascus countryside,’ Syria’s military said in a statement carried by the official Sana news agency. The attack killed two workers and injured five others, it said, and ’caused significant material damage and the destruction of the complex’ and an adjacent parking lot. Syrian activists say the Jamraya site is in a mountainous area of military facilities and training camps located on a heavily guarded road just off the main Damascus-Beirut highway. Later Wednesday, a U.S. official said the accounts of two targets—a convoy of weapons, and a military site—weren’t mutually exclusive. The U.S. believes Israeli warplanes bombed a Hezbollah-bound convoy of antiaircraft missiles, U.S. officials said. The vehicles may have been close to a military facility, they said, cautioning their information remained incomplete.”
Meanwhile, “Iran threatened that a reported Israeli strike in Syria would have ‘grave consequences for Tel Aviv’ on Thursday, days after saying that an attack on Syria would be seen as an attack on Iran,” reports the Times of Israel. “Syria added that the attacks ‘would not go unanswered.'”
“All options for a response against Israeli aggression are open,” an official close to the Assad regime said, according to Syrian press reports. ”The Zionists are trying to use the situations in Syria to restart the crisis when the government was managing to work toward a diplomatic solution.”
“Angry statements from Russia, Iran and the militantly anti-Israel group Hezbollah underscored the risk that Israel’s action — which analysts and Western officials described as an attempt to stop the transfer of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah outposts in Lebanon — could hasten the spillover of the civil war in Syria into a wider conflict,” reports the Washington Post.
“Russia said on Thursday it was very concerned about reports of an Israeli attack in Syria and that any such action, if confirmed, would amount to unacceptable military interference in the war-ravaged country,” reports Ynet News. “‘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 UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it,’ the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.”