Nightly News   |  May 05, 2013

Syrian rebels get boost from Israel

Syrian opposition forces got a boost from two nights of Israeli airstrikes against President Assad’s regime, NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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tonight israel is on alert and bracing for possible retaliation after its forces apparently struck targets inside syria for two nights in a row. the attacks thrust israel smack in the middle of syria 's civil war . our chief correspondent richard engel is monitoring the situation for us just across the border in turkey. good evening.

>> good evening, lester. israel hasn't acknowledged the raid in damascus , but u.s. officials say it was the israelis and they're not denying it. war makes for some pretty strange bedfellows. many syrian rebels welcomed the attack, even if it was from a most unlikely source. an israeli air strike against their common enemy, president bashar al assad 's regime. 2:00 a.m . in damascus , an activist filmed the attack in secret saying god is great as the israeli bombs fell. more than a dozen targets were hit, shock waves felt a cross the city. a syrian rebel in damascus told us by skype, even though the raid was from israel , syria 's decades-old foe it lifted the opposition's spirit. syrian state tv quickly blamed israel close to tpresident as assad's palace. they were iranian-made missile bound for hezbollah that operates just over the border in lebanon . israel said it would not allow game-changing weapons to be transferred from iran via syria to lebanon and then used against israel . by that they mean things like chemical weapon , land to sea, missiles like the sam 17, ground to air missiles that would limit israel 's ability to fly freely over the skies in lebanon .

>> reporter: it's the third strike in syria attributed to israel this year. israeli analysts expect there may be more.

>> reporter: as much as israel would get accurate intelligence about such game changing weapons coming into the area, israel will probably act in order to prevent it and in order to defend itself.

>> bracing for retaliation, israel deployed its iron dome missile defense system around the northern cities of haifa and spat, but no immediate reprisals came. the israeli military also closed civilian airspace in northern israel , one more precaution in case of a retaliation. lester?

>> reporter: richard, thank you.