A senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday that Israel was considering further military strikes on Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants, and he warned the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, that his government would face crippling consequences if it retaliated against Israel.
The Israeli official said: “Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah. The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region.”
“If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies,” the official said, “he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”
The Israeli official, who has been briefed by high-level officials on the Syria situation in the past two days, declined to be identified, citing the need to protect internal Israeli deliberations. He contacted The New York Times on Wednesday.
The precise motives for Israel’s warning were uncertain: Israel could be trying to restrain Syria’s behavior without undertaking further military action, or alerting other countries to another strike. That would ratchet up the tension in an already fraught situation in Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years.