WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States was not given any warning before air strikes in Syria against what Western and Israeli officials say were weapons headed for Hezbollah militants, a U.S. intelligence official said on Sunday.
Without confirming that Israel was behind the attacks, the U.S. intelligence official said that the United States was essentially told of the air raids "after the fact" and was notified as the bombs went off.
Israeli jets bombed Syria on Sunday for the second time in 48 hours. Israel does not confirm such missions explicitly - a policy it says is intended to avoid provoking reprisals. But an Israeli official acknowledged that the strikes were carried out by its forces.
"It would not be unusual for them to take aggressive steps when there was some chance that some sophisticated weapons system would fall into the hands of people like Hezbollah," the U.S. intelligence official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
While the air raids raised fears that America's main ally in the Middle East could be sucked into the Syrian conflict, Israel typically does not feel it has to ask for a green light from Washington for such attacks. Officials have indicated in the past that Israel sees a need only to inform the United States once such a mission is under way.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday, a day after the first of the two Israeli attacks in Syria in recent days, that Israel has the right to guard against the transfer of advanced weapons to the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon.
(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Alistair Bell; Editing by David Brunnstrom)