An airstrike in Syria raised eyebrows last week when a small convoy of vehicles was reportedly wiped off the map near Damascus, while intelligence officials privately indicated Israeli forces were likely behind the attack. Now, Syria has released footage of what they say is the aftermath.
Syrian officials, including President Bashar al-Assad, claim the attack targeted a Syrian research facility, while U.S. officials have said the destroyed convoy was transporting weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon – a strategy that both Israeli and the U.S. have suggested Assad could follow to distract international observers from the bloody civil war in his own country.
al-Assad pointed to a nonaggression treaty negotiated between Syria and Israeli after the 1974 Yom Kippur War as evidence that Israeli violated international law.
While the relayed footage does show what appears to be a small convoy of decimated military vehicles, the damage done to the building is relatively minor – nothing that looks like an Israeli jet deliberately unloaded some missiles on it, certainly. So we can discard Syria's claim right out of hand.
Considering that someone at al-Assad's press office apparently still has time to send angry emails to Washington Post bloggers for disputing whether his wife looks pregnant, I originally thought it might be safe to say they probably have a long enough lunch break to stroll around the corner and take a quick video of what every highway in Syria looks like now after a year of devastating civil war, and pass it off as an "Israeli airstrike."
However, Israel's top civilian defense official, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, neither confirmed nor denied that the Israeli Air Force was behind the attack today.
"I cannot add anything to what you've read in the newspapers about ... what happened in Syria several days ago, but I keep telling, frankly, that we've said — and that's another proof that when we say something we mean it — we say that we don't think that it should be allowable to bring advanced weapon systems into Lebanon," he said at a security conference in Munich Sunday.
Sounds to me like a confirmed kill. While U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's office issued a statement Thursday expressing "grave concern" about whatever went down on that Syrian roadway, seems like it would be hard to muster many tears for the demise of al-Assad’s super-secret terrorist weapons transfer team.
And in this case, if Israeli violated international law… well, I'm not waiting on President al-Assad's lawyers to file charges. In fact, I think the next time we see him anywhere near a courtroom, it will be on quite different terms.