Tensions Rise after Israel Hits Syrian Weapons Convoy

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Syria's civil war took a major step toward a regional conflict this week when Israeli warplanes struck targets inside Syria Tuesday night.

After the attack Arab media reports said Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian forces have gone on higher alert.

Syrian TV claimed Israel attacked a military research center near Damascus, but Western diplomatic sources said Israeli warplanes hit a convoy headed for Lebanon.

Could Israel get dragged into Syria's civil war? CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell has more from Jerusalem, on CBN Newswatch, Jan. 31.

The sources said the convoy was transporting weapons that could change the military balance of power in the region.

"I think that Israel has warned the Syrians about this type of military transfer and we acted upon it," Bar Ilan University Prof. Efraim Inbar told CBN News.

Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, said in some ways it was a warning.

"It is kind of a message sent to both Syria and the Hezbollah by which to say we do have capabilities when it comes to intelligence gathering," Rabi said.

"What we have here is kind of an indication that Bashar's grip over the chemical weaponry is getting weaker," Rabi said.

"Chemical weaponry could be shifted or delivered to either Hezbollah or radical elements within Syria," he aid. "For Israel, it is a red line and I think in this stage, or at this stage, is what we have to do is to be very, very careful, very vigilant."

"Hezbollah is an organization, a terrorist organization, that has a different strategic calculus, and they may be tempted to use this type of weapons," Inbar said.

The Israeli army would not comment on the attacks, but earlier this week it deployed two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in northern Israel. The move is a sign they may be preparing for retaliation by Syria or Hezbollah in Lebanon.

For now, Israel's northern border with Syria remains quiet, but tense.

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