By Ryan Jones
Syria has aimed its considerable ballistic missile arsenal at Israel's heavily populated Greater Tel Aviv area, according to Middle East sources cited by London's Sunday Times.
According to the report, the regime of embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will launch the missiles at Israel should the Jewish state carry out one more aerial strike inside Syria.
Earlier this month, two military facilities in Damascus that were purportedly preparing to transfer advanced weapons to Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorist militia were suddenly destroyed in pinpoint aerial strikes.
Israel refused to officially comment on either strike, but it is widely assumed the Jewish state was behind both attacks. Jerusalem has repeatedly insisted that it will not allow Hezbollah to take possession of Syrian weapons, especially chemical warheads. Assad has said that if his regime reaches the brink of collapse, he will send everything to his Lebanese terrorist allies.
At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the latest threats out of Syria will not deter the Jewish state from doing what must be done to protect its people in the long-run.
"The Israeli government has acted responsibly and prudently to ensure the security of Israeli citizens and to prevent advanced weapons from reaching Hezbollah and [other] terrorist organizations... and we will do so in the future," said Netanyahu.
Israel has thus far tried to avoid directly threatening Assad so as to not pressure him into feeling that he must retaliate. At the same time, the prevailing view is that Assad will not under any circumstances actually launch a missile attack on Israel, knowing full well that the resulting Israeli retaliation would certainly spell the end of his regime.
However, both Assad and his Iranian allies could respond by unleashing Hezbollah, which already possesses tens of thousands of missiles and at least some of Syria's unconventional warheads. The likelihood of "chemical terrorism" in the near future is very high, warned Israeli military officials.
- Netanyahu: We'll continue to halt Syrian arms transfers • Times of Israel
- Report: Syria aims half-ton warhead missiles at Tel Aviv • Israel Hayom
- Israel concerned Russian arms will reach enemies • Malaysia Sun
- Report: Assad preparing missile strike against Tel Aviv in case attacked again • Haaretz
- I won't resign, says defiant Bashar al-Assad • The Australian