Feb 1, 2013

‘It’s not a war Syria could win’: Israel’s air strike may be a taste of things to come, experts predict

Scott Barber | Jan 31, 2013 11:48 PM ET | Last Updated: Feb 1, 2013 10:45 AM ET




ANALYSIS

Israel’s air strike in Syria may be a taste of things to come, say security experts.

If Israel is considering an air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities it must ensure Hezbollah, an Islamist group in Lebanon and a proxy for Iran, does not get its hands on weapons that could cause the Jewish state problems — like anti-aircraft missiles.

“I would anticipate that this isn’t going to be the [last] Israeli air strike designed to degrade Hezbollah’s military capabilities over the next year,” said Gary Gambill, associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.

“If Israel is considering a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, then Hezbollah’s capacity to retaliate is going to be an important factor.”

U.S. officials said Israel targeted a convoy just inside Syria Wednesday believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah.

The Syrian military, however, claimed Israeli jets crossed into their country over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and attacked a scientific research centre near Damascus.

Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, said Damascus “has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation.” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called the attack a clear violation of Syrian sovereignty.

Russia, Syria’s most important international ally, said the raid appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

The attack has inflamed regional tensions already running high over Syria’s 22-month-old civil war.

“It’s a sign that the Syrian civil war is getting worse because it’s drawing in countries,” said John Mundy, a retired Canadian diplomat who was the country’s last ambassador to Iran.

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