The Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed Hezbollah-bound SAM-8 missiles at a Syrian air base at the western port of Latakia early Thursday and apparently were the source of a later bombing of missiles near Damascus.
The MTV television station in Lebanon had stated that Israeli sources told it that Turkey launched the missile attack on Latakia, but former IAF commander Eliezer Marom told Israeli radio that the report should be discounted and that the Israeli Air Force has the capability to carry out the missile attack.
The White House confirmed that Israel struck the Syrian air base at Latakia.
Several explosions were heard at the base, a stronghold of the Assad regime, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. No casualties were reported.
The same base was attacked by Israel in July, when ammunition warehouses were bombed.
Lebanese press reported that Israeli Air Force jets circled over south Lebanon on Wednesday, and a Kuwaiti newspaper reported last week that the IDF bombed a shipment of heavy arms headed for Hezbollah.
Whether Israel tried to pin the strike on Turkey or whether the Lebanese report simply was inaccurate, there have been strong signs that Turkey and Syria are baiting each other for war after a short and ridiculous friendship.
Five years ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan turned his wrath against Israel after the Cast Lead counterterrorist operation in Gaza. He ditched long-time close trade and military ties with Israel and ran into the waiting arms of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Assad.
Turkey, along with Lebanon and the Hezbollah domination in its south, was a central part of the Evil of Axis that left Israel with a solid stretch of enemies to the north.
Erdogan, who has proved himself to be a buffoon when it comes to choosing the right friends and wrong enemies, did a quick 180-degree reverse when he realized his folly of hooking up with Tehran and Damascus. He also forgot that the United States is one of his biggest patrons and it would not so wise to ignore Washington.
Assad, jilted by Erdogan and left paranoid with only Iran and Hezbollah as his friends in the region, turned his anger on Turkey. His army frequently has attacked rebels along the border with Turkey and sometimes within Turkish territory.
Last July, a Turkish jet mysteriously flew in Syrian air space for five minutes and then was downed by Assad’s Air Force, killing the pilots.
There are plenty of other reasons that Turkey and Syria may draw each other into conflict in the midst of the civil war that so far has seen more than 2 million refuges flee to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
The reasons are summed up in one word – Al Qaeda terrorists.
The London Telegraph reported Thursday that hundreds of Al Qaeda recruits are staying in “safe houses” in southern Turkey to prepare for jihad in Syria.
The civil war’s degeneration into a holy Islamic jihad has attracted Muslim thrill-seekers from all over the world.
The British newspaper quoted an Australian volunteer named Abu Abdullah that he came to fight in Syria because a “Western lifestyle stands against Islam” and because he was disgusted at the atrocities committed by the Assad regime.
Replacing “an eye for an eye” with “an atrocity for an atrocity,” Al Qaeda is not content to let Assad have a monopoly on war crimes.
Turkey may be losing control of the Al Qaeda recruits, according to experts quoted by the Telegraph.
One manager of the inflow of recruits said from a safe house in Turkey, speaking via Skype, “Every day there are mujahedeen coming here from all different nationalities.
The Al Qaeda members in Turkey are recruiting volunteers for the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, known as “the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”