Hezbollah keeps quiet about Israeli airstrike/Israel warns against attacks & intensifies movement along Lebanon border


Hezbollah keeps quiet about border airstrike
The Daily Star/Apr. 27, 2015
BEIRUT: Hezbollah refused to comment Sunday on reports that Israel targeted its interests on the Syria-Lebanon border over the weekend. News outlets reported Saturday that Israeli fighter jets hit Syrian and Hezbollah targets on the Syria-Lebanon border overnight Friday. When contacted by The Daily Star, a Hezbollah spokesman refused to confirm or deny the reports. According to sources quoted by Al-Jazeera, the attack in the Syrian region of Qalamoun targeted the 155th and 65th Brigades of the Syrian Army, which deal with strategic weapons and long-range missiles. The sources reported several explosions in the Syrian towns of Al-Qutayfa, Yabroud and Qara on the outskirts of Damascus. Al-Arabiya news channel reported that the attack targeted Syrian weapons depots, and that Wednesday Israel allegedly attacked two weapons convoys, reportedly killing one person. Sources confirmed to Lebanese news site Elnashra Saturday that Israel had attacked Syrian posts near Qara.  The Israeli Army declined to respond to the reports. Syrian regime-affiliated media and Hezbollah-affiliated media have not reported the attack so far. Sources told Israel’s Ynet that the Israeli air force has carried out several raids against targets in Syria, including depots storing weapons meant for Hezbollah, since the conflict there started over four years ago. Israel last attacked Hezbollah in January, when an Israeli helicopter struck in Syria’s Golan Heights, killing top Hezbollah commander Mohammad Issa, along with Iranian commander Mohammad Allahdadi, and Jihad Mughniyeh and four other Hezbollah fighters. Although Israel has never confirmed that it carried out the strikes, it has been vocal about its policy of preventing the transfer of arms to Hezbollah. Separately, a Hezbollah MP dismissed a media report claiming that the party possesses an airstrip in northeast Lebanon used to land its arsenal of drones. “The defined area does not contain any airstrip. If there was an airstrip or works to build one, all the residents of the Baalbek valley would have seen it with their own eyes,” Loyalty to Resistance bloc MP Walid Sukkarieh said in comments published Saturday. The comments came after an article in Jane’s Defense Weekly said it had discovered what it believed to be an airstrip near the Bekaa Valley town of Hermel, built by Hezbollah to fly its drones.
It published satellite images taken from Google of the site. “The location mentioned by the magazine, which is 10 kilometers south of Hermel and 18 kilometers west of the Lebanese-Syrian border, contains my own village, al-Fakiha,” Sukkarieh said, describing the area in question as agricultural land. The report Thursday had suggested that the location contained an airstrip that Hezbollah built for its drones between Feb. 27, 2013, and June 19, 2014.

Israel warns against attacks from Golan Heights
Ian Deitch| Associated Press/Apr. 27, 2015
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the soldiers involved in the airstrike on the border with Syria after the military said it spotted militants carrying a bomb in the Israeli-held Golan Heights. The Israeli military said it carried out the strike after troops saw “a group of armed terrorists” approach the border with an explosive intended to target Israeli troops. It said that Israeli aircraft “targeted the squad, preventing the attack.” It did not offer any casualty figure for the strike. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four Syrian soldiers were killed by a missile fired from Israeli-occupied territory in the Golan. Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said it was not clear whether the missile was fired by a plane or from a vehicle. On Twitter, Netanyahu sent messages commending the soldiers involved in the strike. “Any attempt to harm our soldiers and civilians will be met with a determined response like the military action tonight that thwarted a terror attack,” Netanyahu said. No one immediately claimed responsibility of the attack launched from inside Syria, which has been in the grips of a civil war since 2011. Syrian state media did not immediately report on the strike. Israel has tried to stay out of the war in Syria, but it has spilled into the country before. In September, the Israeli military shot down a Syrian fighter jet in airspace over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed in a move that has never been internationally recognized. In August, Israel shot down a drone that came into the same airspace from Syria. Israeli troops also have responded to occasional mortar fire from Syria. Israel says some of the attacks may have been accidental spillover, while others have been intentionally aimed at Israeli civilians and soldiers. It has always held Syria responsible for any cross-border fire. Israel and Syria are bitter enemies. While relations are hostile, the ruling Assad family in Syria has kept the border area with Israel quiet for most of the past 40 years. Israel is concerned that the possible ouster of embattled President Bashir Assad’s ouster could push the country into the hands of Islamic State extremists or Al-Qaeda linked militants, or plunge the region further into sectarian warfare. It also repeatedly has threatened to take military action to prevent Syria from transferring advanced weapons to its ally, Hezbollah. Israel is believed to have carried out several airstrikes in Syria in recent years that have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles. There were reports in Arab media last week that Israel had carried out another attack on such weapons in Syria. Israeli officials have not commented. But just hours before the border strike Sunday night, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned Syria and Iran against arming Hezbollah with such weapons. “We will not allow the transfer of quality weapons to terror groups led by Hezbollah and we know how to reach them and those that dispatch them at any time,” Yaalon said. He added that Iran is continuously trying to find ways to arm Hezbollah with the weapons.

Israel intensifies movement along Lebanon border after Golan strike
Mohammed Zaatari/ The Daily Star/Apr. 27, 2015
MARJAYOUN, Lebanon: Israeli units patrolled the border with Lebanon and carried out a military exercise in the Shebaa Farms Monday, security sources told The Daily Star. The sources said that Israeli vehicles were seen moving near the Lebanese border in the occupied farms, while residents of Kfarshuba said they heard loud explosions and a jet hovering around dawn. Armored Israeli vehicles patrolled along the Blue Line from the military base of Al-Abbas to that of Mtolleh on the southeastern Lebanese border.
Some troops were also seen combing nearby orchards. From the Lebanese side, UNIFIL and Lebanese Army troops observed the Israeli movements that another security source described as “just another routine patrolling operation.”Meanwhile, Israeli media said the Jewish state’s army was mobilizing along the northern border after the recent escalation in the Golan Heights. On Sunday, Israeli jets targeted militants allegedly carrying a bomb in the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Israel said it carried out the strike after troops saw “a group of armed terrorists” approach the border with an explosive intended to target Israeli troops. It said that Israeli aircraft “targeted the squad, preventing the attack.”It did not offer any casualty figure for the strike, while a security source told AFP that four people were killed in the attack, which took place near the town of Majdal Shams. Israeli jets also reportedly hit Syrian and Hezbollah targets on the Syria-Lebanon border overnight Friday, according to a sources quoted by Al-Jazeera. The attack in Syrian region of Qalamoun allegedly targeted the 155th and 65th Brigades of the Syrian Army, which deal with strategic weapons and long-range missiles.