JERUSALEM, Israel – Syria's government warned of "dangerous repercussions" for Israel after an airstrike on a chemical weapons plant in Central Syria. Although Israel does not comment on such strikes, former Israeli National Security advisor Maj. Gen. (ret.) Ya'akov Amidror said the attack should not surprise anyone.
"If weapons systems are being produced for Hezbollah…it's only a logical explanation and is in the frame of the old policy," Amidror said.
The 2:30 a.m. attack targeted the Assad regime's Scientific Studies and Research Center in Masyaf, believed to have produced chemical weapons, along with an adjacent military facility storing missiles and rockets, and several weapons convoys en route to Hezbollah strongholds. The Syrian army said two soldiers were killed in the attack.
On Thursday morning, Assad's government warned Israel of serious repercussions for the first attack on a formal research and development facility.
Amidror said Syrian President Bashar Assad's visit to the facility a few weeks ago may have signaled a transfer of its use to Hezbollah.
On Wednesday, in its 14th report since 2011, the U.N. said its investigators documented 33 chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime over the course of the Syrian civil war.
Asked if Wednesday night's airstrike was related to the U.N. finding, Amidror said "you don't produce such an attack a few minutes after a U.N. announcement."
There is no doubt, he said, that Syria and Iran "are now very much connected. The question is who's making the decision, Assad or [Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah] Khamenei?
Asked if the Russians would retaliate for the strike, Amidror said "The Russians fully understand what Israel's interests and concerns are."
"It should be clear and has been clear for years," he said.
Amidror said the understandings between Russia and Israel are a good example of diplomacy at its best. The meetings between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been very good.
"We understand their interests and they must understand ours," he said. "The success of the diplomacy – the fact that we have an open access to the president of Russia is important.
"That we [Israel and Russia] are open with each other are a good example of how to conduct diplomacy when you don't agree with everything on the other side. Each side understands the other side's interests."
Amidror said he didn't believe the timing of the airstrike coincided with the Israel Defense Forces' war games taking place in the north.
"I don't think it's so important as part of the timing," he said, "tactically maybe but not strategically."
"We don't need this attack; we said this very clearly," he continued. "We will not allow them [the Assad regime] to build the capabilities of Hezbollah. It was said publically, clearly. Even without this attack we are ready to act whenever they cross the red lines."