Yesterday, there were reports that Israel had struck a Hizb’Allah convoy en-route from Syria to Lebanon. Now various intelligence sources are claiming that the convoy was carrying SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles. The weapons were on their way to Lebanon where Hizb’Allah could use them against the IAF in a future conflict and restrict Israel’s air superiority. The Israelis could not allow that to occur and decided to strike.
US officials said Wednesday overnight that Israel had bombed a suspected shipment of anti-aircraft missiles in Syria on Tuesday night, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported.
American officials told the Times that Israel notified the US about the attack. The reports follows varying accounts of the alleged strike.
Several foreign reports said a weapons convoy carrying “game-changing” arms from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon had been hit Tuesday overnight. Syria’s military command later denied that a convoy had been attacked.
The Israeli strikes against Syria and Hizb’Allah makes the growing conflict in the region a three way fight. Israel vs. Assad/Hizb’Allah/Iran vs. the Muslim Brotherhood/Al-Qaeda. This is a very complicated situation but is typical of the Mideast which is tribal and factional. The coming days will reveal the repercussions of these attacks.
Israel struck at the worst time for Hizb’Allah. The Lebanese Shia group is being bled dry in their participation in the Syrian war. They have suffered losses at the hands of al-Qaeda.
In a meticulously planned operation in October, units linked to the Free Syrian Army in the city of Qusayr near the Lebanon border killed Ali Hussein Nassif, who was quickly exposed as commander of all Hezbollah forces in Syria. His death shed light on the extent of the group’s involvement in the conflict.
Reports indicate that Hezbollah recently expanded its actions in Syria to include its most valued resource — its highly trained and strategically irreplaceable special forces units. Hezbollah’s secretive military wing is reportedly composed of 2,000 to 4,000 professional soldiers and thousands of reservists hailing from Shiite villages south of the Litani river and the Bekaa Valley, meant to be called into action to repel a future Israeli invasion. During the 2006 conflict with Israel, the loss of roughly one quarter of Hezbollah’s special forces was assumed to constitute the group’s most severe setback.
Varying reports from Syria suggest that the direct participation of these special forces units in combat zones nationwide has increased, and additional forces may be on the way.
Militarily and politically, Hezbollah has much at stake in the Syrian conflict, but it is risking even more by attempting to save a pariah regime that may not be savable. The group has incurred hundreds of losses against Syrian rebels, including its valued special forces. Hezbollah cannot outmatch rebel manpower, and will need to commit its best fighters and most sophisticated equipment to cut rebel supply lines in the hopes of hindering a Damascus invasion force from gaining traction.
Hizb’Allah can not defeat al-Qaeda and will not risk opening a second front against Israel. This was an opportune time for Israel to strike and not risk a war with Hizb’Allah.