Report of attack comes soon after Lebanese army says IAF fighter planes flew over Lebanon in three separate missions; Israeli officials have repeatedly warned this week that Syrian chemical weapons could be falling into the wrong hands.
Israeli forces attacked a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, Western diplomats and regional security sources said on Wednesday, at a time of growing concern over the fate of Syrian chemical and conventional weapons.
The Israel Defense Forces refused to confirm or deny the report. "We do not comment on reports of this kind," an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said.
The reported attack came soon after the Lebanese media said that Israel Air force jets had flown over Lebanon's air space in three separate missions late Tuesday and early Wednesday. There was no confirmation of that report from Israel, either.
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3:23 P.M. MI chief Aviv Kochavi and National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror return from their consultations in Washington and Moscow (Barak Ravid).
3:20 P.M. Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, on Israel Radio, was asked if there was unusual activity on the northern front.
"The entire world has said more than once that it takesdevelopments in Syria very seriously, developments which can bein negative directions. And therefore the world, led by [U.S.]President [Barack] Obama who has said this more than once, is taking allpossibilities into account and of course any development whichis a development in a negative direction would be something thatneeds stopping and prevention."
3:08 P.M. The Lebanese news site Naharnet: Total of 12 Israeli fighter jets enter Lebanese air space over last 24 hours.
3:03 P.M.: Security source tells AFP: The air force bombed a weapons convoy just as it was crossing from Syria into Lebanon.
2:56 P.M.: The French newspaper Le Figaro: Israeli security sources say the target of the attack was a weapons convoy traveling from Syria into Lebanon. Not clear whether the attack took place inside Syria or in Lebanese territory.
2:27 P.M.: Reuters reports that Israel has sent its national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, to Russia and its military intelligence chief Major-General Aviv Kochavi to the United States for consultations.
1:58 P.M.: Laura Rozen, of Al-Monitor, posts on Twitter that the "#Israel jets said to have struck alleged weapons convoy in Syria, after #IDF intel chief consultations in Washington".
1:45 P.M. Security source: There was definitely a hit in the border area"; A Western diplomat in the region who asked about the strike said "something has happened", without elaborating.
An activist in Syria who works with a network of opposition groups around the country said that she had heard of a strike in southern Syria from her colleagues but could not confirm.
The sources, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, had no further information about what might have been hit or where precisely the attack happened.
Earlier this week, the Lebanon Army reported that the IAF had violated Lebanon's airspace on Saturday in four different incidents. The Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported that IAF fighter jets were seen flying around the Beka'a Valley.
Also Saturday, the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal said that an explosion struck a weapons storage facility in an area of southern Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah. The report was not confirmed by Lebanon's government or by the Lebanese army. The latter said it had conducted a number of controlled explosions on Saturday of munitions left over from the Second Lebanon War.
According to the daily, the explosion took place in the small town of Machghara, located in the Beka'a Valley. It said that a cloud of smoke was seen rising from the site, which was quickly cordoned off by Hezbollah forces.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his cabinet ministers of the risk that chemical weapons from Syria could be falling into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
"It is necessary to look at our surroundings, both at what is happening with Iran and its proxies, and what is happening in other arenas - lethal weaponry in Syria, which is steadily breaking up," Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
Also Sunday, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said that any sign that Syria's grip on its chemical weapons was slipping, as President Bashar al-Assad fights rebels trying to overthrow him, could trigger Israeli intervention.
The commander of the Israel Air Force, Major General Amir Eshel, on Tuesday issued his own warning over the volatility of Syria and its weapons. Addressing the international space conference in Herzliya, Eshel described Syria as a "country falling apart", adding: "Nobody has any idea right now what is going to happen in Syria on the day after, and how the country is going to look. This [sectarian crisis] is happening in a place with a huge weapons arsenal, some of which are new and advanced, and some of which are not conventional."
Israeli sources said on Tuesday that Syria's advanced conventional weapons would represent as much of a threat to Israel as its chemical arms should they fall into the hands of Syrian rebel forces or Hezbollah guerrillas based in Lebanon.
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