JERUSALEM— Israel has attacked targets in Syria, raising fears that the Syrian civil war could spread into a broader regional conflict.
Israeli officials told foreign news agencies that the air force launched an attack in Syria, targeting a shipment of advanced missiles headed to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. The officials say it did not target chemical weapons, but rather long range missiles that could strike deep into Israel.
Israeli leaders have warned repeatedly that they would not allow the transfer of sophisticated weapons in Syria to terrorist groups.
“Any kind of movement or transfer that looks like they may get to Hezbollah, it’s pretty sure that Israel will act to prevent that. For Israel that’s an immediate threat, clearly that’s a very strong red line,” said Israeli analyst Gerald Steinberg.
The air strike took place on Friday, hours after an emergency meeting of Israel's security Cabinet. According to media reports, Israeli jets may have attacked the Syrian targets from Lebanese air space. Lebanon’s foreign minister reacted angrily, warning that the attack is inflaming already high regional tensions.
Steinberg says Israeli military intervention in Syria is a dangerous move “…that could trigger a great deal of instability, unrest or wider war in the Middle East”.
It was the second Israeli air strike on Syria this year. In January the Israeli Air Force targeted a shipment of advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles destined for Hezbollah.