A Shiite Lebanese analyst with close ties to Hezbollah said late last month that the war in Syria has failed to slow the movement of arms and other resources to Hezbollah.
“[Hezbollah] still has it coming in from Syria because Damascus is still controlled by the Syrian army, and the airport is theirs,” Mohammed Obeid said in an interview.
Obeid said he communicates with Hezbollah leaders on a daily basis and frequently meets with Syrian officials in Damascus.
Details of that attack were sketchy, but it appeared the target was a storage site at an air defense base on the periphery of the Damascus airport, known to be the chief transshipment point for weapons flown into Syria from Iran, both to aid the Syrian government in its battle against rebels and to supply Iran’s ally Hezbollah in Lebanon.
A senior Lebanese security official who was in Damascus at the time said the strike took place about 4 a.m. and targeted a large quantity of missiles stored at the site. The official, who, like the others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, did not know the origin or the destination of the missiles.
There were reports Friday that an overnight rebel mortar attack had caused a huge blaze at the Damascus airport, with a video posted online showing at least two locations on fire. But the Lebanese security official said that the blasts, which woke him up, were bigger than those caused by mortar shells and that his Syrian counterparts had confirmed to him that the source was an Israeli strike.
The attack appeared to be similar to one in January in which Israeli jets hit a convoy carrying weapons intended for Hezbollah, the official said, with the warplanes firing from a location over Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
His claims could not be independently confirmed, but a Syrian opposition Web site also said that the Damascus airport was the target, according to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. Lebanese authorities and residents had reported unusually intense Israeli overflights during the previous 48 hours, suggesting that the warplanes may have struck their target from Lebanese airspace.
A U.S. official in Washington confirmed that the strike had taken place but refused to provide details. Spokesmen for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the reports.
Israel has also not officially confirmed that it carried out the January strike, on a convoy reportedly transporting antiaircraft missiles to Hezbollah, and the fact that some officials swiftly acknowledged U.S. reports of this attack pointed to Israel’s growing determination to directly confront the threat posed by the Syrian conflict.