An Israeli Embassy spokesman would not comment on media reports that Israel conducted an airstrike against a target in Syria, The Associated Press says. Multiple news organizations, citing anonymous U.S. officials, report the U.S. believes Israel did lead an airstrike on a Syrian target.
A “U.S. administration official” tells The New York Times the strike occurred overnight Thursday. According to CNN, which first reported the news, “This is the same time frame that the U.S. collected additional data showing Israel was flying a high number of warplanes over Lebanon.” But CNN’s source said the U.S. could not yet confirm those planes conducted an airstrike.
Though he didn’t respond directly to the reports, Israeli Embassy spokesman Aaron Sagui did email the AP a statement, reiterating Israel’s position:
“What we can say is that Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, specially to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
The New York Times notes, “In late January, Israel carried out airstrikes against SA-17 antiaircraft weapons, which the Israelis feared were about to be moved to the Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon.”
The possibility of an airstrike this past week arises after reports that Syria has used chemical weapons, which President Obama has previously called a red line for the U.S. The president has been weighing his options, as NPR’s Don Gonyea reported Thursday.
Friday, Obama said he doesn’t “foresee a scenario in which boots on the ground in Syria, American boots on the ground, would not only be good for America but also would be good for Syria,” the AP reports. Earlier in the week, NPR’s Kelly McEvers reported that the administration is considering arming the Syrian rebels.