Israeli warplanes strike targets near Lebanon-Syria border

BEIRUT—Israeli warplanes struck targets late Monday near the Lebanese-Syrian border, according to news and official accounts, but there were conflicting reports about whether the areas hit were on Syrian or Lebanese soil.

The official Lebanese news agency said Israeli warplanes "launched two raids" in a mountainous area in the vicinity of the Lebanese village of Nabi Sheet.


There was no comment from the Israeli government. There was also no official word on possible casualties.

Earlier, the Lebanese news service had reported Israeli aircraft flying "at very low altitude, over the eastern and western mountain chains of Lebanon." However, violations of Lebanese airspace by Israeli warplanes are fairly routine.

Firas Ghadban, a doctor with the rebel Free Syrian Army in the Syrian town of Sarghaya, said the town was "lit up" by a blast.

"They hit the Hezbollah military base on the border with us," Ghadban said.

The mountains of Sarghaya overlook the base, he said.

Israel has reportedly launched a number of airstrikes against Syrian territory in the last year, even as Syria has been embroiled in a civil war. The Israeli government has never confirmed the attacks. But none of the reported airstrikes hit targets inside Lebanon.

U.S. officials have said the Israeli bombardments in Syria were intended to destroy advanced missiles and other heavy weapons that could end up in the hands of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based political and militant organization. Syria has long been a transshipment point for weapons bound for Hezbollah's arsenal.

Some news reports indicated that the strikes Monday targeted Hezbollah strongholds along the Lebanese-Syrian border in the Bekaa Valley. But there was no confirmation from the Lebanese government or from Hezbollah officials.

Hezbollah has sent militiamen to Syria to back the forces of President Bashar against rebels who have been fighting for almost three years to oust Assad's government. Hezbolllah fighters are reportedly participating in a Syrian government offensive to retake the rebel-held city of Yabrud, close to the Lebanese border.

Israel and Hezbollah, bitter enemies, fought an inconclusive, monthlong war in 2006.

Twitter: @mcdneville

Sandels is a special correspondent. News assistant Batsheva Sobelman in The Times' Jerusalem bureau and Times staff writer Raja Abdulrahim in Los Angeles contributed to this report.