Report: Israel carries out overnight Syria strike in latest skirmish

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Syrian media reports say that Israel carried out strikes on a number of positions near the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, in the latest clash over the last several days.

The reports claim that Israeli jets targeted a Hezbollah weapons convoy and Syrian army sites. The Israeli Defense Force has not confirmed whether the air strikes took place or not.

The reports come after an Israeli drone strike yesterday reportedly killed a Syrian pro-regime militia member in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border. Channel Two named the man as Yasser al-Sayed, who was a commander in one of Syria’s air defence units according to Arabic media reports.

The weekend skirmishes came after a serious incident overnight Friday, in which Syrian anti-aircraft missiles were fired at Israel Air Force planes on a mission over Syrian air space, which were thought to be targeting Hezbollah weapons convoys. The Syrian missiles did not hit their intended targets and Israel deployed the Arrow missile system for the first time, which successfully intercepted one of the Syrian missiles.

Israel has remained firmly on the sidelines of the Syrian civil war despite periodic errant fire from across the border. However, Israeli leaders have admitted to carrying out strikes if needed to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Speaking yesterday, Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “Each time we discover arms transfers from Syria to Lebanon we will act to stop them. On this there will be no compromise… the Syrians must understand that they are held responsible for these arms transfers to Hezbollah and that if they continue to allow them then we will do what we have to do.”

Lieberman also told Israel Radio yesterday that “the next time the Syrians use their air defence systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation”.

Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari responded to Lieberman’s comments by claiming that “Syria’s forceful response [anti-missile fire overnight Friday] to the Israeli attacks changed the rules of the game,” and that Israel “will now think a million times” before attacking again.