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Israeli jets pound targets near Damascus; Action called strike on Iranian missiles

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Syrian targets near Damascus were pounded by Israeli jets in an air raid. Western and Israeli officials called the military action a new strike on Iranian missiles bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah. Witnesses were woken from their slumber to see pillars of flame go high into the night sky. "Night turned into day," one man told Reuters.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The bombing was the second such raid in 48 hours. There was the expected angry rhetoric from Tehran and from the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Many doubt that the raid would elicit any greater reaction than an Israeli attack in the same area in January, which was followed by little or no change.

Israeli officials are confident, that as in January, they expected Assad would not pick a fight with a well-armed neighbor while facing defeat at home.

Officials said Israel was pursuing its own conflict - and not with Syria, but with Iran, and that Israel was acting to prevent Iran's Hezbollah allies receiving missiles that might strike Tel Aviv if Israel made good on threats to attack Tehran's nuclear program.

Israeli officials stressed that it was not getting drawn into a debate that has raged in the United States lately of whether the alleged use of poison gas by Assad's forces should prompt the West finally to give military backing to oust him.

Israel was not taking sides in a civil war that has pitted Assad's government, a dour but mostly toothless adversary for nearly 40 years, against Sunni rebels, some of them Islamist radicals, who might one day turn Syria's armory against the Jewish state.

Two years of killing in which at least 70,000 Syrians have died has not only inflamed a wider, regional confrontation but has also left Israel and Western powers scrambling to reassess where their interests lie.

In particular, Egypt, the most populous Arab state and flagship of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, has no support for Assad. Egypt did condemn Israel's air strikes as a breach of international law that "made the situation more complicated."

An Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the strikes were carried out by its forces, as was a raid early on Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama said had been justified.

"In last night's attack, as in the previous one, what were attacked were stores of Fateh-110 missiles that were in transit from Iran to Hezbollah," the Western intelligence source said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his aim for Israel was to "guarantee its future" - language he has used to warn of a willingness to attack Iran's nuclear sites, even in defiance of U.S. advice, as well as to deny Hezbollah heavier weapons.

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