Israel acting to stop Syrian arms transfer to Hezbollah: Netanyahu

Last Updated: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 08:25

Jerusalem: Israel is doing "as much as possible" to prevent Syrian weapons reaching Lebanon`s Hezbollah and will continue to act in this regard, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

The Israeli Premier`s remarks came two weeks after Israel reportedly carried out air strikes near Damascus to prevent transfer of weapons to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’ite ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The claims about the strikes have neither been confirmed nor denied by the Israeli government.

Netanyahu made the comments at the beginning of his Cabinet`s weekly meeting on Sunday as he was apparently responding to reports in the British newspaper `Sunday Times` that said that Syria has missiles aimed at Tel Aviv.

"The government of Israel is acting in a responsible, determined and prudent manner to ensure the supreme interest of the State of Israel which is the security of its citizens according to the policy we set: to prevent as far as possible leakage of advanced weapons to Hezbollah and terrorist elements," he said.

Reconnaissance satellites have revealed preparations made by the Syrian Army to deploy surface-to-surface Tishreen missiles, according to the Sunday Times.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, the report said, is ready to use these missiles should Israel decide to conduct a strike on Damascus.

"Our policies are to stop, as much as possible, any leaks of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah and other terrorist organisations. We will continue to act to ensure the security interests of the citizens of Israel," Netanyahu said.

The British paper quoted Israeli missile expert Uzi Rubin as saying that Syria has a lot of Tishreen missiles at its disposal, and should they fire them at Israel, they could potentially paralyse all commercial flights coming in and out of the country. Lebanon`s Al Mayadeen TV had earlier also quoted a Syrian official as saying that Damascus has aimed missile batteries at Israel, shortly after the two recent alleged strikes that reportedly targeted a weapons transfer meant for Hezbollah.

Syria has so far refrained from a military response despite threats made by various Syrian officials, including Assad, who has threatened to retaliate immediately and without warning should Israel strike again.

Israel has been concerned about the possibility of unconventional weapons in Syria falling into the hands of terror groups in the Middle East as political uncertainties linger on in the war-torn country.

Israeli fighter planes have reportedly conducted three airstrikes this year on Syrian soil in pre-emptive measures that have gone unretaliated.

In an interview with The Sunday Times in early March, after an alleged Israeli raid on a Syrian chemical weapons facility in February, Assad said that Syria had always retaliated to Israeli actions, "but we retaliated in our own way, and only the Israelis know what we mean".

"Retaliation does not mean missile for missile or bullet for bullet. Our own way does not have to be announced," Assad had said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 08:25

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