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Terrorism & Security

Why Israel bombed Syria, again (+video)

Israeli aircraft bombed a warehouse in Syria Friday that reportedly held Iran-made Fateh-110 missiles bound for Hezbollah.  It's the second time in four months that Israeli aircraft have hit targets in Syria.

By Staff writer / May 4, 2013

Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech at the parliament in Damascus, Syria in 2010. Israel launched an airstrike into Syria, apparently targeting a suspected weapons site, U.S. officials said Friday night, May 3, 2013.

(AP Photo/SANA, File)

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Just as President Obama is worried about Syrian chemical weapons getting into the hands of Al Qaeda, Israel is concerned that the conflict in Syria will give Hezbollah cover for the delivery of short-range missiles.

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That's the logic, according unnamed US and Israeli sources, for the latest Israeli air strike in Syria.

Israel hit a warehouse in Damascus early Friday where advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran were being stored before being shipped to Hezbollah, a Shiite group in Lebanon that fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, according to various reports.

The New York Times reports:
"It was the second time in four months that Israel had carried out an attack in foreign territory aimed at disrupting the pipeline of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. The missiles, known as Fateh-110s, had been sent to Syria by Iran and were being stored at an airport in Damascus when they were struck in the attack, according to an American official."

The Fateh-110 missile is a short-range missile that's been in the Iranian arsenal since 2004. Its range is listed at 200-210 kilometers (130 miles)  but there are reports that a more advanced model was under development with a range of more than 400 kilometers (239 miles). The Fateh-110 is considered more accurate and more advanced than the Scud missiles used by Hezbollah in the past.

Associated Press quoted an anonymous Israeli official confirming that the attack was "aimed at sophisticated "game-changing" weapons, but not chemical arms. One official said the target was a shipment of advanced, long-range ground-to-ground missiles but was not more specific.

Reuters quoted an anonymous US source confirming the air strike. "There was an air strike. The target was not a chemical weapons facility. It was missiles intended for Hezbollah," the official told Reuters. A U.S. official told Reuters the target was apparently a building.

While Hezbollah has not officially or specifically discussed this Israeli missile strike, The Daily Star of Lebanon quotes an official as saying that the group is backing Syria's President Bashar Assad.

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