Analysis: A Quiet Strike in Syria


A stockpile of Scud missiles in Syrian territory on the main route from Damascus to Lebanon was struck from the air during the weekend and damaged.

And again, as in numerous times in the past, the Arab news media accused Israel of having sent its planes to carry out the attack.

Israeli officials have not responded to the accusations. However, it is interesting to note that those who were attacked — whether it was the Iranians who have been attempting to smuggle in weapons, or their Hizbullah clients- — were conspicuously mute.

All the players that were targeted were caught at an inopportune moment, from their point of view. Since the attack came at a time when they are embroiled in internal difficulties, and the last thing they need is a clash, on any scale, with Israel.

In the not-so-distant past, Hizbullah responded in one way or another to such an attack from Israel. Presumably, they would like to respond this time too. But they will not necessarily do so in the near term. Because currently they are heavily engaged in fighting the forces arrayed against them on the route from Damascus to Lebanon. This is not the right time, for either the Iranians or the Hizbullah to hit back, regardless of who carried out the attack. They are up to their necks in bloody fighting, and to open a front with Israel now is not in the cards.

According to western media reports, as well as al-Jazeera, “storage depots for strategic weapons’ were hit in the air strike. They were located north of Damascus, by the main highway to Lebanon.

Newspapers in Beirut reported that simultaneously with the attack on the Scud missiles, logistical targets in the Mount Kalamon area were also hit, a scene of fierce clashes recently between Hizbullah and Syrian insurgents. The latter seeks to gain control of the area in order to stop the flow of militia, weapons and supplies to Syria.

The Israeli silence is part of a longstanding policy not to comment on foreign reports alleging military actions on its part. What is surprising is the silence of the others (thus far, at least), which signals that they are not at this time seeking a confrontation with Israel, and that they believe it’s better for them to ignore the incident in the meantime.