Israeli warplanes strike near Lebanon-Syria border
By PATRICK J. MCDONNELL AND ALEXANDRA SANDELS | Los Angeles Times | Published: February 25, 2014
BEIRUT — Israeli warplanes struck targets late Monday near the Lebanese-Syrian border, according to news and official accounts, but there were conflicting reports about whether the areas hit were on Syrian or Lebanese soil.
The official Lebanese news agency said Israeli warplanes “launched two raids” in a mountainous area near the Lebanese village of Nabi Sheet.
There was no comment from the Israeli government. There was also no official word on casualties.
Earlier, the Lebanese news service reported Israeli aircraft flying “at very low altitude, over the eastern and western mountain chains of Lebanon.” However, violations of Lebanese airspace by Israeli warplanes are fairly routine.
Firas Ghadban, a doctor with the rebel Free Syrian Army in the Syrian town of Sarghaya, said the town was “lit up” by a blast.
“They hit the Hezbollah military base on the border with us,” Ghadban said.
The mountains of Sarghaya overlook the base, he said.
Israel has reportedly launched a number of airstrikes against Syrian territory in the past year, even as Syria has been embroiled in a civil war. The Israeli government has never confirmed the attacks. But none of the reported airstrikes hit targets inside Lebanon.
U.S. officials have said the Israeli bombardments in Syria were intended to destroy advanced missiles and other heavy weapons that could end up in the hands of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based political and militant organization. Syria has long been a transshipment point for weapons bound for Hezbollah’s arsenal.
Hezbollah has sent militiamen to Syria to back the forces of President Bashar Assad against rebels who have been fighting for almost three years to oust Assad’s government. Hezbolllah fighters are reportedly participating in a Syrian government offensive to retake the rebel-held city of Yabrud, close to the Lebanese border.