1938 Alert. “U.S. Confirms Israeli Strikes Hit Syrian Target Last Week,” by Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper for the New York Times (thanks to all who sent this in):
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 “” After days of silence from the Israeli government, American officials confirmed Tuesday that Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes inside Syria last week, the first such attack since 2003.
A Defense Department official said Israeli jets had struck at least one target in northeastern Syria last Thursday, but the official said it was still unclear exactly what the jets hit and the extent of the bombing damage.
Syria has lodged a protest at the United Nations in response to the airstrike, accusing Israel of “flagrant violation” of its airspace. But Israel’s government has repeatedly declined to comment on the matter.
Officials in Washington said that the most likely targets of the raid were weapons caches that Israel’s government believes Iran has been sending the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah through Syria. Iran and Syria are Hezbollah’s primary benefactors, and American intelligence officials say a steady flow of munitions from Iran runs through Syria and into Lebanon….
One Bush administration official said Israel had recently carried out reconnaissance flights over Syria, taking pictures of possible nuclear installations that Israeli officials believed might have been supplied with material from North Korea. The administration official said Israeli officials believed that North Korea might be unloading some of its nuclear material on Syria….
Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has said that if Israel is not willing to resume negotiations for the return of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the alternative would be to try to regain the territory by force….