Israel 'Planning Strike on Hezbollah Sites in Syria'

Kuwaiti daily quotes unnamed Western sources as saying that Israel has bolstered its troop presence in the Golan an stepped up UAV overflights.

Israel is planning to strike Hezbollah weapons storage and production facilities in Syria, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported Saturday.

The report in the daily Alrai quoted unnamed Western sources as saying that Israel has bolstered its troop presence in the Golan Heights and the Galilee panhandle. It also quoted European sources who said Israel had sent unmanned aerial vehicles over Syria and Lebanon, which they called a sign that Israel is planning a military operation in one or both of its northern neighbors.

IDF aerial photo marking alleged Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon, released on July 7, 2010

The paper said Israel is particularly focused on facilities where Hezbollah stores long-range rockets, some of which are deep in Syrian territory.

It also cited unnamed sources who predicted that unlike Syria's muted response to the 2007 strike on a reputed nuclear reactor on its soil - which foreign media said was by Israel - this time the country would respond far more forcefully and quickly.

The Syrian Army, the paper reported, is at a heightened state of readiness, having deployed anti-aircraft missiles along the Israeli border and in other key strategic areas in the country.

Alrai was the first newspaper to report Syria had transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah five months ago.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Liwaa reported Friday that the assistant to U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell had met with the chief of staff of the Lebanese Army earlier this month and warned him of the implications of failing to achieve stability on the Israel-Lebanon border.

The paper said the U.S. official, Frederick Hoff, spoke to the army chief in general terms about what he called an Israeli plan to destroy the Lebanese Army's infrastructure - including command centers and military bases - in just four hours should further clashes break out. Hoff urged the army chief, Jean Kahwaji, to show restraint in the event of a renewed confrontation.

The Lebanese Army announced Friday that an Israeli military balloon had been spotted above the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek and in the adjacent mountainous region.

The United Nations special envoy to Lebanon, Michael Williams, said this weekend that one of the issues on the agenda for the organization's Security Council meeting tomorrow would be the Israeli-Lebanese border clash earlier this month. Williams said the UN views the border incident "seriously," and would do everything possible to avoid similar incidents in the future.

The renewal of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force's mandate reportedly also will be discussed at the Security Council meeting. On Wednesday, Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper reported that the council had expressed unanimous support for extending the force's mission.

The off-the-record endorsement reportedly occurred during Tuesday's closed council session, held in advance of the official vote on the extension of Resolution 1701 scheduled for tomorrow.

The force's current mandate expires on Tuesday.