With Syria entangled in civil war, Israeli military expects no reaction to airstrike



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TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel doesn't expect a Syrian or Lebanese response to an airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel earlier this week since they are too tied up with that country's bloody civil war and can't afford to open another front, a senior Israeli military officer said Wednesday.

The officer said Hezbollah guerrillas had the capability, but not the motivation, at this time to harm Israel and there was no "logic" to picking a fight with Israel while it was knee-deep in battling a Sunni insurgency.

"I don't see any reason why in 2015 Hezbollah will turn to Israel, there is no logic to that way of thinking," he said in a briefing with reporters at military headquarters. "But if you are talking about capacity and the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) should be ready to deal with any capability of any one of its enemies. The capability of Hezbollah is growing every year."

He spoke on condition of anonymity according to military guidelines.

The Syrian military says Israeli warplanes struck near Damascus' international airport Sunday, as well as outside a town close to the Lebanese border.

Since Syria's conflict began in March 2011, Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria that have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Hezbollah, with whom Israel battled in an intense month-long war in 2006.

Sunday's strike looked to be of similar nature.

Israel has tried to stay out of the war in neighboring Syria, but it has repeatedly threatened to take military action to prevent Syria from transferring sophisticated weapons to its ally Hezbollah.

As is its practice, Israel neither confirmed nor denied the most recent report. But Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon cryptically warned Tuesday that Israel "will not allow red lines to be crossed that endanger Israel's security."

"Anyone who tries to arm our enemies should know that we can go anywhere, anytime, in any way, in order to foil his plans. We will not compromise on this," he said, without addressing the airstrike directly.

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