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Defense Min. Vows to Prevent Hezbollah from Obtaining Heavy Arms

Comments come after Israeli jets reportedly strike another Syrian weapons convoy headed to Lebanese terror group.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 10/23/2013, 3:40 PM

Yaalon with IDF commanders, Golan Heights
Yaalon with IDF commanders, Golan Heights
Ariel Harmoni, Ministry of Defense

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has reiterated Israel's determination to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorists during the Syrian civil war.

Speaking at the parliamentary foreign and defense committee, Ya'alon said Israel was closely monitoring the situation in Syria, including the Assad regime's moves to dismantle its chemical arms.

"So far the regime is upholding its commitment," he said, in remarks relayed by his office.

"We are following the issue," he continued, "and continue to maintain our red lines on Syria - not to allow the transfer of advanced Syrian weapons to hostile hands, especially (Lebanese terrorist group) Hezbollah."

Hezbollah has provided crucial military support for the badly overstretched Syrian military during the two and a half year Syrian civil war. As a result, the Iranian-backed group has absorbed a steady stream of casualties of its own - and acquired a host of new enemies at home and abroad - and Israeli and western intelligence officials fear the Syrian regime could "compensate" Hezbollah by handing it heavy weaponry, which could be used against Israel.

Another concern is that the Assad regime could seek to move some of its heavy weaponry out of the country to prevent them falling into rebel hands.

Such weapons could include advanced anti-aircraft weaponry which could challenge Israel's air-supremacy over its northern skies and, potentially, chemical weapons - particularly as rumors abound that the Assad regime is hiding some of its chemical stockpile from international inspectors by transferring them to its allies in neighboring countries.

Ya'alon emphasized that Israel would "not allow the passage of chemical weapons," but added that "until now they [the regime] haven't even tried to transfer" chemical weapons.

His comments came as Kuwaiti daily Al-Jareeda, citing an official in Jerusalem, said Israeli warplanes had on Monday hit a convoy carrying advanced missiles along the Syria-Lebanon border bound for Hezbollah.

An Israeli defense official refused to comment on the report, which did not state whether the strike took place inside Lebanese or Syrian territory.

Israel has carried out several air strikes inside Syria this year that officials said were aimed at preventing shipments of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.

During the last such incident, in late July, Syrian opposition sources claimed IAF jets bombed trucks carrying Syrian missiles bound for Hezbollah's warehouses in Lebanon.