Syria Live Blog
Israel vows to do whatever it takes to stop advanced weapons from reaching Hezbollah.
Israel may have maintained total silence over Syrian claims it hit a military centre near Damascus, but the Jewish state has vowed to do whatever it takes to stop advanced weapons from reaching Hezbollah.
Over the past week, Israeli officials have stepped up the rhetoric about Syria's weapons stockpile, which includes chemical agents, warning of dire consequences if they end up in the hands of the Iran-allied Lebanese militia against which it fought a devastating war in 2006.
But following reports of a pre-dawn strike on Wednesday on a weapons convoy heading for Lebanon, coupled with accusations by Syria of an Israeli hit on a military research centre near Damascus, official Israel fell silent.
"The best thing that Israel has been hoping for for a long time is that the West will take control of these weapons," admitted Tzahi HaNegbi, an MP who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Israel has always said that if sophisticated weapons coming from Iran, North Korea and Russia fell into the hands of Hezbollah, it would cross a red line," he told army radio.
"But the world is not ready to take such a decision as it did in Libya or Iraq, so Israel finds itself facing a dilemma which we alone can resolve," he said, saying Israel was left with no choice but to take preventative action.
If Israel had indeed attacked military targets in Syria, it was to prevent Hezbollah from changing the strategic balance of power in the region, former top army officer Dan Harel told the radio.
"We are not ready to accept that Hezbollah changes the balance of force," said Harel, former deputy head of the Israeli military.
"We have said it many times in the past. If Israel did do what is claimed, it was to maintain the military balance with Hezbollah," he said.
Israel has said Hezbollah obtaining chemical weapons would be a casus belli which would cause it to act "without hesitation or restraint" but the Jewish state has also warned about the militia obtaining other advanced weaponry, such as anti-aircraft systems and surface-to-surface missiles.