Report: Israel strikes Hezbollah weapons convoy

Arab-language news agencies are reporting an overnight Israeli strike on a Syrian army warehouse near Damascus and on a weapons convoy on the Beirut-Damascus highway.

News agencies affiliated with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Qatar-based Al Arabiya TV network and the Kuwaiti news network al-Rai, all covered the airstrikes, which reportedly took place in the early hours of this morning at and were carried out by Israeli aircraft from within Lebanese airspace. Initial reports say that Israel conducted four airstrikes. The strike comes just days after an attack on IDF forces by an ISIS cell in Syria, which was met with an immediate targeted airstrike.

Officials quoted by the London-based newspaper Rai al-Youm describe the Syrian army target as an arms depot for the 38th Brigade of the 4th Division near Sabourah, and speculated that the vehicles were transporting arms to Hezbollah. Initial reports say that no one was hurt in the strike.

Israel has vowed to prevent Hezbollah acquiring so called game-changing weapons under the guise of the Syrian civil war, such as sophisticated Russian ground-to-air SA17/22 missiles, accurate Iranian Fateh-110 rockets or the Russian SS-N-26 anti-ship Yakhont Cruise missiles. Although rarely confirming such action, Israeli leaders have routinely warned against attempts to supply Hezbollah, a staunch ally of President al-Assad, with advanced weaponry.

In a speech to soldiers on the Syrian border in April, 2016, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Israel’s willingness to act across the border where necessary: “We act when we have to act, including here and across the border, with dozens of strikes, to prevent Hezbollah acquiring tie-breaking weaponry.”

Israel has declared its commitment to stay out of direct involvement in the five-year long civil war in Syria. However, it has sought to prevent hostile actors positioning themselves in the Golan Heights along Israel’s border with Syria and turning it into an active front with established military infrastructure and cross-border attacks. Israel has routinely responded militarily to stray mortars landing in its territory, saying that it holds the Syrian regime responsible for any mortars landing in Israeli territory from Syria.

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