BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Lebanese sources say no Israeli strike in Lebanon

Israeli jets fly over south Lebanon on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Lebanese security sources said Wednesday there was no Israeli strike inside Lebanese territory after reports said Israeli jets hit a weapons convoy on the border with Syria.

Regional security sources told the Associated Press that the Jewish state conducted an airstrike inside Syria near the border with Lebanon. They added that Tel Aviv has been making plans leading up to the attack to target a shipment of arms bound for Hezbollah.

Lebanese Army sources told The Daily Star that there was no aerial strike inside Lebanon, although the military has registered increased violations of Lebanese airspace by Israeli jets since Friday of last week.

"No Israeli strike or aggression occurred along the border stretching from Shabaa Farms to Jabal al-Sheikh and Hermel. No strike took place on Lebanese soil," a high-ranking security source said.

He added that security agencies in the country have no information with regards to an aerial attack inside Syria.

Several media outlets said Israeli jets hit a convoy carrying anti-aircraft missiles on its way to Lebanon without providing specific location for the attack.

A Hezbollah spokesperson told The Daily Star he had no knowledge of the alleged Israeli strike.

“I don’t have any information about that,” Ibrahim Musawi said.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he could not confirm the attack near the border with Lebanon.

“I heard about the aerial raid during the meetings [with Turkish officials] and I haven’t received any confirmation from Lebanese authorities,” Mikati told reporters at a news conference in Ankara.

“I haven’t had time to contact the Lebanese Army but these are all media reports without any official confirmation.”

In a statement, the Lebanese Army said four Israeli warplanes violated Lebanon’s airspace at 2 a.m. Wednesday and conducted aerial maneuvers above various Lebanese areas for approximately six hours.

The military also said that it registered two violations on separate occasions on Tuesday by eight Israeli warplanes.

Reuters quoted a Western diplomat and security sources Wednesday saying Israeli forces attacked a target on the Lebanon-Syria border overnight while Agence France Press and Al-Arabiya television reported that Israeli forces carried out a strike overnight on a weapons convoy coming from Syria into the border area.

"The Israeli air force blew up a convoy which had just crossed the border from Syria into Lebanon," AFP quoted one source as saying.

News of the alleged attack comes weeks after Israeli officials upped their rhetoric over the possibility that President Bashar Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah.

Last week, Israel's vice premier Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying that any sign that Assad is losing grip on his country’s chemical weapons due to the fighting there could prompt Israeli military strikes.

Iran, a key supporter of Assad in the region, has said it considered any attack on Syria as an attack on itself and has warned against military intervention to end the bloodshed in the troubled country.

Hezbollah's chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah denied last year his group possessed chemical weapons.

“We don’t have chemical weapons and we don’t need to use them ... because [Israel] has factories and locations that are in the reach of our rockets,” he told Al-Mayadeen television, adding that it was religiously unacceptable for his group to use chemical weapons.

 

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