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No Chemical Arms in Syrian Convoy Hit by Israel Airstrike, Source Suggests
A Syrian military transport vehicle struck by Israeli fighter planes close to the Lebanese border on Wednesday is not believed to have been transporting chemical weapons, an anonymous source told Reuters.
Sources said the airstrike occurred on the Syrian side of the boundary line with Lebanon. It follows closely threats made by Tel Aviv of its readiness to use military force to prevent Hezbollah and other regional nonstate actors from acquiring Syrian chemical warfare materials.
"The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon," an anonymous Western envoy told Reuters, continuing that the vehicle could have been transporting antiaircraft missiles.
A different source affiliated with Syrian opposition forces said the truck was likely transporting antiaircraft and antitank missiles, though not chemical arms. Israel "attacked trucks carrying sophisticated weapons from the [Bashar Assad] regime to Hezbollah," the source said.
A locally based defense source described the incident as essentially "a warning by Israel to Syria and Hezbollah not to engage in the transfer of sensitive weapons. Assad knows his survival depends on his military capabilities and he would not want those capabilities neutralized by Israel -- so the message is this kind of transfer is simply not worth it."
When asked about the airstrike on Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists, "I don't have any comment for you at all on those reports."
The Israeli government has declined to discuss the airstrike.
This article provides an overview of Syria's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.