Impressive Explosions Rock Damascus — Someone’s Pounding Syria’s Army: America? No, It’s Most Likely Israel

The Obama Administration has expressed concern about the use of chemical weapons by Syria’s regime against rebels and civilians, but the United States is not believed to have done anything in response.

Israel, on the other hand, is sending a strong message that it is watching — carefully keeping an eye on everything going on in the chaos of Syria’s civil war — and Israel won’t tolerate the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah, in Lebanon, that would strengthen the Lebanese Shi’ites in future clashes with Israel.

One thing you can’t hide — even in the Middle East, a region full of secrets — is a series of loud bomb explosions on a mountain overlooking the capital of an Arab country.

That’s what the people of Damascus were seeing during the overnight hours (early Sunday).  A country once hermetically sealed and controlled by a Stalin-style Assad regime now has citizens using their mobile phones and video cameras and immediately posting to YouTube.   This amateur video ends with a very significant explosion.

Thus we have the impressively large fires — and the occasional large blast — on Jebel (Mount) Qassioun, which overlooks the Syrian capital.  For decades, its slopes have been known as a place to relax at airy cafes and restaurants.  But during the civil year that has raged for over 27 months, the Syrian military is believed to have stationed more elite troops on the mountain.  It also has broadcasting towers for state-run TV and radio.

According to reports quoting Syrian TV, Israeli missiles struck — but this is apparently referring to another location in the Damascus suburbs where a military research center is located.  That center was bombed in February, in an aerial strike which Israel has not officially confirmed.  Syrians say that Israel is attacking from a distance, without sending planes into Syrian airspace.  That assertion could not be confirmed with Israeli official sources.

Israel has not formally confirmed it struck any targets in Syria — not early Sunday morning, and not on Friday morning — but sources did say that President Bashar al-Assad’s military was again planning to transfer “game-changing” powerful offensive missiles to the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon — so Israel decided that it had to stop that.

Is Israel intervening in the civil war — trying to help rebels topple the Assad government?  That seems doubtful, as Israel politicians and intelligence analysts have not settled on any particular rebel faction which they like.  But Syrian TV said the attacks by Israel prove that the “terrorists” (the rebels) are agents of Israel.

There was not a word of criticism from the Obama Administration, which for days has faced the issue of striking somehow at the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons against rebels and civilians. Israel’s leaders recently said that they are highly concerned about the possibility that Syria’s chemical weapons are out of their locked arsenals and, as one official put it, “on the move.”

On Thursday, shortly before the targets in Syria were struck, Netanyahu is known to have had a long, strategic discussion with the ministers in his “security cabinet.”  Several of them have thin experience with national security affairs, as they had no government experience until joining the coalition formed after this past January’s election.

Visiting Costa Rica, President Obama — continuing his solidly pro-Israel tone since his visit to Israel in March — told an interviewer: “What I have said in the past and I continue to believe is that the Israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. We coordinate closely with the Israelis recognizing they are very close to Syria. They are very close to Lebanon.”

May 4, 2013

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