Lebanese media reported Sunday afternoon that Israeli war planes were spotted in the skies above southern Lebanon.
It appeared the pilots were rehearsing attacks on targets in the region, local sources told media outlets.
Both Syria and Lebanon accused Israel of carrying out air strikes on a convoy last Wednesday that was transporting Russian-made surface-to-air missiles from the Damascus area towards the border with Lebanon.
The two countries also accused Israel of bombing the Jamraya military research center, where chemical weapons were being processed. At least two people died in the attack, and a number of others were wounded. Among the casualties were alleged members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
For the first time, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak this weekend obliquely acknowledged that indeed, Israel had carried out the strike, which he referred to as “proof that when we say something, we mean it."
“We say that we don’t think it [Syria] should be allowed to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon,” he told top international diplomats and defense officials at a conference Sunday in Germany.
Barak did not bluntly say that Israel had carried out the strike, skirting the issue by saying, “I cannot add anything to what you have read... about what happened in Syria several days ago.
“But I keep telling ... that we said, and that is another proof that when we say something we mean it, we say that it should not be allowable to bring advanced weapons systems into Lebanon and Hizbullah from Syria when [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad falls.”
Barak added that in his view, “Hizbullah from Lebanon and the Iranians are the only allies that Assad has left.” He said the region has not been this unstable since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Assad’s fall could come at any time, Barak added, noting “this will be a major blow to the Iranians and to Hizbullah.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Israel on Sunday of seeking to “destabilize” his country, in a statement released to the government-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
The air strike had “unmasked the true role Israel is playing, in collaboration with foreign enemy forces and their agents on Syrian soil, to destabilize and weaken Syria,” Assad was quoted as saying during a meeting in Damascus with top Iranian officials.