Yaalon Warns Israel Won't Tolerate Transfer of Advanced Weapons to Hizbullah
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has warned that Israel will not tolerate advanced weapons reaching Hizbullah, which has fought alongside Syrian troops.
“Those who try to violate our sovereignty – we will strike them, and those who try to transfer advanced weapons to terror elements, with an emphasis on Hizbullah, we will strike them, and those who try to transfer chemical weapons to terror elements, we will strike them,” Yaalon said on Tuesday during a visit to Gaza-border communities.
“We have no intention of giving up our ability to defend our interests. And I suggest that no one tests us,” he warned.
Yaalon said Israeli warplanes on Monday targeted two Syrian artillery guns suspected of shelling inside the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
He said Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Moscow that "we are not involved and we don't have any interest to intervene in the civil war in Syria, but we have to keep our interests."
Moscow has been ramping up its involvement in Syria in recent weeks by ferrying weapons, troops and supplies to an airport near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia in what the U.S. sees as preparations for setting up an air base there.
Yaalon said Russia's presence in Syria is near the coast, far from Israel.
Retired Israeli army Col. Jacques Neriah said Russia has a "moderate presence" in Syria.
"It will help in stabilizing the area, and especially if Russia has the intent to fight the Islamic State together with the United States and the Western coalition," said the former deputy head for assessment of the Israeli army's military intelligence.
Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy leader of Hizbullah, which has sent fighters to help Syrian President Bashar Assad, said Tuesday that "Russia intervened by its weapons and capabilities because there is someone that stood on his feet," referring to Assad, who is at war with an array of rebel and Islamic militant groups.
Qassem said "the world today admits that a solution in Syria can be only achieved with President Assad."