Fresh off of weekend claims by Vice Premier Silvan Shalom that Israel was considering attacking Syria, they did exactly that, sending warplanes through Lebanon into Syrian territory and launching air strikes that killed two people.
Exactly what was hit, who was killed, and why the attack was launched at all remain matters of intense speculation, and with Israeli officials refusing any comment on their attack, conflicting stories from Syria and the United States are being pushed.
The US claims that Israel attacked an “arms convoy” en route to Lebanon, carrying Russian-made anti-aircraft weapons to the Hezbollah faction, which would make Israeli attacks in Lebanon less convenient.
Syria, on the other hand, claims that the attacking warplanes struck a military research facility near Damascus, killing two workers and wounding five others. They accused Israel of doing so to aid the rebels.
Experts say that whatever was hit likely had nothing to do with Syria’s chemical weapons program, which Israeli officials have often cited as a likely target. Such an attack would’ve caused massive environmental damage and would’ve been readily confirmed.
Whatever the case, the attack will have a major impact on Syria’s civil war, complicating the conflict and adding credence domestically to Assad’s claims of a Western conspiracy against him. Though it is highly unlikely Israel launched the attack in coordination with Syria’s Islamist rebels, the perception of an Israeli role in the war for regime change could shift popular opinion both in Syria and in the various nations from which Islamist fighters are flocking.