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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Next Stop: Syria and Israel

[Update] 9/18/07- July Chemical Weapons Experiment kills dozens of Iranians and Syrians while trying to mount a chemical warhead on a Scud missile. Story here.[End Update]

We promised yesterday that when we saw anything confirming CNN's article regarding Israel conducting air strikes against Syria, that we would bring it to you.

Last week there was reports of Syria firing upon Israeli aircraft, but no one had reported anything further than that.

CNN does not name their "sources" but attribute the following comments to those unnamed sources that they claim come from the region of the U.S.:

Sources in the U.S. government and military confirmed to CNN's Barbara Starr that the airstrike did happen, and that they are happy to have Israel carry the message to both Syria and Iran that they can get in and out and strike when necessary.

Right now, diplomats are rushing around the region trying to ensure the incident does not escalate.

According to the NYT, U.S. officials have confirmed that air strike.

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.

In the summer of 2006, during fighting between Israeli and Hezbollah forces, the militant group fired hundreds of missiles into Israel, surprising Israel with the extent and sophistication of its arsenal. Israel has tried repeatedly to get the United Nations to prevent the arms shipments across the Syria-Lebanon border.

On August 12, 2007, we showed that Hizbullah was being rearmed by Syria right under the UN's nose, while the French turned a blind eye.

(Hat Tip to YID with LID for the link) We now see that Hizbullah is rearming right under the French Army's nose, with the French turning a blind eye.

Lebanese civilians close to the border with Syria told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that weapons for Hizbullah were being brought in by the truckload at night. Lebanese Army troops on duty at the border refused to confirm the claims.

This correspondent watched as a line of trucks and lorries several kilometers long built up at one crossing on the road from Lebanon into Syria. The trucks, en route from Beirut to Damascus, were laden with a mixture of goods: everything from construction materials to fruits and vegetables. But in the late afternoon wintry chill they were stationary; their drivers had disappeared and only the occasional soldier kept guard every few hundred meters.

"They don't move in the day," said Yusuf Saad, a taxi driver waiting at the border crossing.

Saad, who had watched this correspondent from the other side of the road for some time before signaling for me to come over, added that "It's much easier for them to drive at night." He nodded toward the distant Syrian mountain range.

"There's not so much traffic on the road. And I can tell you" - his voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper - "they might be going in with produce, but they're coming out with weapons. They hide the rockets under the goods and that's how they're able to bring them into the country."

From Part two:

Iran and Syria are rearming Hizbullah to prepare for the inevitable battle to come. Something everyone ignores is that THEY WERE WARNED. Rice, Bush, just about everybody warned the UN and the world that if Hizbullah was not disarmed as part of resolution 1701 that the worlds attention would be back there sooner rather than later..... they were right.

As Lebanon's government tries to maintain its shaky grip on power, sources tell TIME that Tehran and Damascus are shipping weapons to the militant Shi'ite group.

Iran is smuggling weapons through Syria to re-arm Lebanese allies Hizballah, despite renewed efforts by United Nations peacekeepers and the Lebanese army to seal off the mountain borders with Syria in the wake of last summer's war between the Shi'ite militia and Israel, according to reports by Saudi and Israeli intelligence sources that have been confirmed by western diplomats in Beirut.

Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv say that Hizballah replenished nearly half of its pre-war stockpiles of short-range missiles and small arms. But western diplomats in Beirut say these calculations under-estimate the weapons flow and that Hizballah has now filled its war chest with over 20,000 short-range missiles—a similar amount to what they had at the start of the conflict, during which the group is believed to have fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel. "The Iranian pipeline through Syria was already working during the war," despite constant Israeli bombing raids on the roads into Lebanon from Syria, this Beirut source said.

That was back in November. I and others didn't need a crystal ball or any special abilities to see what was happening and what was going to happen, it didn't take a rocket scientist to follow the stories and come to the logical conclusions and yet, nobody, especially the complete, incompetent, incapable and corrupt UN, has lifted a finger to stop it, instead they choose to turn thier eyes away and pretend everything is alright.

Fast forward to todays news from The Telegraph:

Hizbollah buys frontier land to attack Israel

Hizbollah is buying up large tracts of land owned by Christians and other non-Shias in southern Lebanon as the militant group rebuilds its defences in preparation for a new war with Israel, The Sunday Telegraph has been told.

The land grab is thought to be driven by the Iranian-backed guerrillas' efforts to rearm themselves and fortify the strategically important ravines north of the Litani River, just north of the front line in last year's 34-day conflict with its Jewish neighbour.

Here, Hizbollah has been free to press forward without harassment from the 13,000 United Nations peacekeepers and 20,000 Lebanese army troops who were deployed south of the Litani as part of the ceasefire agreement that ended the conflict.

So much for the UN, all they are doing is turning a blind eye to what is happening and when the war starts all over again and they are caught in the cross fire, it will be Israel that is blamed for innocent, blind, incompetent UN workers deaths and Hizbullah will simply get a slap on the wrist while the media demonizes Israel, yet again.

The UN and the French Army turn a blind eye, so Israel has acted to protect themselves from another war like we saw last summer.

How many arms has Hizbullah managed to stockpile, via Syria, while Israel waited for the UN to do their job?

More worrisome is this little tidbit from the NYT:

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.

“The Israelis think North Korea is selling to Iran and Syria what little they have left,” the official said. He said it was unclear whether the Israeli strike had produced any evidence that might validate that belief.

Now if Israel does provide solid evidence showing North Korea has shared nuclear technology with Syria, howlong will it be before that same nuclear technology and weapons is used by Hizbullah and what does this mean for the questions I asked in last post about Iran?

So, if Germany is serious about not supporting any further sanctions against Iran then that leaves us with a few questions for our readers.

#1. What type of sanctions can the U.S. with allies that do support further sanctions, take and to use as leverage against Iran?

#2. Excluding, for the sake of argument, any military air strikes against Iran, what options are still available to assuring the international community that Iran will not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons?

#3. Is there any other options available once military strikes and UN sanctions are taken off the table, to stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?

Meanwhile on Wednesday the Nazareth-based Israeli Arab newspaper The Assennara cited anonymous Israeli sources as saying that Israeli jets "bombed a Syrian-Iranian missile base in northern Syria that was financed by Iran... It appears that the base was completely destroyed."

According to the Times, American officials confirmed Tuesday that Israeli jets launched an airstrike inside Syria. Sources said that Israel struck at least one target in northeastern Syria, but could not provide more details.

The most likely target was, according to some administration officials, weapon caches sent by Iran to Hizbullah through Syria. (Source)

Liberty Pundit makes a very good point about this, if North Korea is supplying nuclear technology to Syria:

This is why you don’t talk and talk and talk to these people. They don’t negotiate in good faith, they negotiate as a stalling tactic. While you’re wasting your breath, they’re doing research and building weapons. Ask Madeline Albright and Jimmy Carter about that.

The New York Sun shows us a problem for the UN in addressing this issue:

If Iran's weapons transfers to Hezbollah were indeed the target, a Western council diplomat told The New York Sun yesterday, it might explain Syria's hesitance to convene the Security Council. The diplomat, who was unauthorized to speak on the record, added that if the United Nations addressed the alleged Israeli violation of Syrian airspace, the organization also might be asked to deal with Syria's role in arming Lebanese militias, in violation of a council resolution.

The UN and the whole international community needs to get over the mindset that if they ignore what is happening in the Middle East with Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, it will somehow just go away, it will not.

The Middle East has always been a troubled region, back to ancient biblical times, and it is once again nearing the boiling point, add the potential for nuclear weapons into the mix, via North Korea, and I doubt anyone will dispute that things can go downhill very rapidly in the coming months.

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