Reports came out late Saturday night that Israel made the curious decision to attack Syria, potentially entering the armed conflict, but as more information came out it was clear Israel was trying to protect its own interests.
Officials from the U.S. and Israel have leaked details to Reuters, the Associated Press and CNN detailing what happened. Israeli warplanes were detected flying over Lebanese airspace around late Thursday night or early Friday morning. A Syrian weapons warehouse that stocked advanced, long-range ground-to-ground missiles that were to be delivered to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah was reportedly attacked. It's believed, but not confirmed, that the planes detected over Lebanon carried out the attack. None of the countries involved are confirming what took place.
So these were not Syria's much talked about stockpile of chemical weapons, but an Israeli official told the AP they were "game-changing" none the less. Israel have warned they would attack Syria if they believed Bashar al-Assad's army was delivering weapons to the militant group. They're worried about Syria passing along their chemical weapon stockpile to Hezbollah if things get too hairy, sure, but normal weapons are a concern, too. An Israeli official went into more detail with The New York Times: "Chemicals maybe get a lot of press and attention, but one of the clear things worrying us is advanced conventional weapons." (It's also believed Israel carried out a similar attack in January though it's never been confirmed.) Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, went on a tirade earlier this week mentioning something about "dangerous retribution" and possibly entering the fray in Syria.
This is, of course, coming at the same time that the Obama administration is debating not so much if they should enter the Syrian conflict with some kind of military force, but when and how. The New York Times reports the options on the table include, "attacking Syria’s antiaircraft systems, military aircraft and some of its missile fleet," and that attacking Syria's chemical weapons stockpile has been "all but ruled out." Bombing chemical weapons potentially creates the big kind of disaster Syria's detractors are trying to avoid. Until then, almost all other options are being considered.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.