Smoke rises after shells exploded in the Syrian village of Al Rafeed, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, as seen from the Israeli occupied Golan Heights - Reuters
Syria has hinted at offering its chemical weapons stockpile to the Lebanon-based Shiite militant group Hezbollah, according to President Bashar al-Assad's mouthpiece.
In a veiled offer which apparently alludes to the chemical weapons, Damascus is ready to arm Hezbollah with "all types of weapons, including new and quality weapons not previously provided," according to the regime-backed media outlet Al-Watan.
"High-ranking" army officials in Assad's regime have been quoted by the report as saying that they are ready to supply weapons to Hezbollah, a stance which is bound to infuriate Israel.
Israel reportedly carried out its first airstrike on Syria to attack a Hezbollah-bound missile shipment, having long expressed concern that Syria's chemical weapons stockpile could end up in the hands of the militants.
The chemical weapons hoard of Syria is believed to the largest stockpile in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Assad's troops have also been given a free hand to retaliate against Israel if that country carries out any further attacks in the region.
Apparently referring to the West Bank, Assad's regime authorised the army to use missiles against the "target bank" if Israel strikes Syria. Anwar Raja, spokesperson for a Palestinian militia group in Syria, told the Associated Press that they have been given the green signal by Assad to attack Israel if one more strike emerges from Israel.
Since that statement, three mortar shells have been fired into the Israeli-controlled region of Golan Heights. However, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) played down the incident and said the shells were part of the ongoing fighting in the region between Assad's troops and rebels.
IDF does not believe Assad will initiate a fresh conflict with Israel given the turmoil in Syria.
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