Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why Israel Bombed Syria: A Look At Reasons For Israeli Airstrikes

By KARIN LAUB 05/05/13 03:20 PM ET EDT AP


BEIRUT -- A look at the reasons for and possible implications of the escalation of Israel's involvement in Syria's civil war.
Israel has said repeatedly it does not want to get dragged into Syria's civil war but has also warned that it will not allow so-called "game-changing" sophisticated weapons to flow across the border to Lebanon's Hezbollah, an Islamic militant group allied with the Syrian regime.
Israeli defense officials believe Iran has stepped up shipments of weapons to Hezbollah through Syria, including accurate longer-range Iranian missiles, as President Bashar Assad's position weakens. This could help explain the back-to-back Israeli strikes on Friday and Sunday on alleged Hezbollah-bound weapons in Syria. Before this week, Israel aircraft had struck Syria only once, in January.
Analyst Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut says Israel may simply be sending a stern warning to deter such weapons smuggling. Salem says Israel also appears to be increasingly concerned about Iranian and Hezbollah forces fighting alongside Assad's troops, close to Israel's borders.