As the Syrian civil war grinds on, Israel now faces two intertwined mortal enemies gaining strength close to its borders—Iran and Hezbollah. And within this context, on Thursday, Syria accused Israel of conducting a strike within its borders, at a facility other observers believe has produced chemical weapons. The strike, which Israel per its policy has not commented on, wouldn’t be Israel’s first, but it’s the first since the U.S. and Russia agreed in July to a cease-fire deal to end the fighting in Syria. That deal was concluded without Israel’s input—but the new strike shows how Israel could continue to shape the battlefield on its own.
The Syrian military said Israeli warplanes fired missiles from Lebanese airspace at a Syrian military positions near Masyaf, killing two army personnel and damaging the site. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group that Western news organizations regard as a reliable source of information on the Syrian civil war, said the facility that was struck belonged to Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), the country’s premier research institution, and stored surface-to-surface missiles. Western intelligence officials have long believed the SSRC facility in Masyaf, among others, produced chemical weapons. Israeli officials maintained their policy of declining to comment on operational matters, but Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence, while not confirming that Israel was responsible, said on Twitter the strike was “not routine.”