View Full Version : Israel Keeps Up Blackout On Mystery Syria Air Strike

09-06-2007, 09:46 AM
Syria 'fires on Israel warplanes'


(Gold9472: NOT good.)


Syria says its air defences have opened fire on Israeli war planes which had entered Syrian airspace overnight.

Israeli planes had "dropped ammunition" over desert areas of Syria, before being forced to leave, according to the official Syrian news agency, SANA.

Israel radio quoted an unnamed Israeli army source as saying no air strike had been carried out, Reuters agency said.

The Syrian news agency says the action took place "without causing human or material loss".

Syria and Israel have remained technically at war since the seizure of the Golan Heights in 1967.

Tensions between Israeli and Syria have been rising in recent months. Both countries' leaders have said they do not want a war, while accusing the other side of arming for a conflict.

Syria says it last fired at Israeli warplanes in June 2006, when Israeli aircraft flew over the summer residence of the Syrian president, while he was inside.

Syria: We fired on IAF jet that violated our airspace, dropped ammo


By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies

The Syrian army said Thursday that its air defenses fired on an Israel Air Force warplane that entered Syria airspace and "dropped ammunition," the country's official news agency reported.

The Israel Defense Forces said it would have no comment on the Syrian reports.

"It is not our custom to respond to these kinds of reports," the IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement.

The Prime Minister's Office said it was looking into the report.

Syrian air defenses fired at the incoming plane, which crossed into Syria after midnight local time, the agency said.

The Syrian Army spokesman, quoted by the official Syrian Arab News Agency, did not say how the military fired on the aircraft, but confirmed that the incident occurred at midnight Wednesday night.

"We warn the Israeli enemy government against this flagrant aggressive act, and retain the right to respond in an appropriate way," the spokesman said.

"The Israeli enemy aircraft infiltrated into the Arab Syrian territory through the northern border, coming from the Mediterranean heading toward the eastern region, breaking the sound barrier," the Syrian spokesman said.

"Air defense units confronted them and forced them to leave after they dropped some ammunition in deserted areas without causing any human or material damage."

Al-Arabiya television reported that the air strike occured in north-eastern Syria, close to the border with Turkey.

A Syrian analyst told Hebzollah's Al-Manar television that the plane was likely dumping ammunition in order to maneuver, and was not carrying out a bombing raid.

The reported incident comes after months of growing tensions along the frontier and concerns that the escalation could result in war. Over the summer, Israeli and Syrian officials have repeatedly made announcements that they had no interest in hostilities.

Security official said late last month, however, that the IDF had decided that war with Syria is unlikely and was reducing its troop presence in the Golan Heights after months of cross-border tension.

The Israeli officials said recently that Syria's military had also reduced its war readiness, but offered no details as the exact steps taken by the Syrians are classified. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the information to the press.

In an interview Sunday night with Haaretz, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he saw no reason for any forthcoming military conflict between Israel and Syria.

09-06-2007, 11:20 AM
If they start adding Iran to this equation I am going to go sweep out the bunker.

09-07-2007, 08:09 AM
Majadele: IAF regularly flies over Syria
In first comment by Israeli official on Israel's alleged violation of Syrian airspace Friday, minister says incident not likely to trigger war with Syria


Roee Nahmias Published: 09.07.07, 13:25 / Israel News

Minister Raleb Majadele said Friday that the Israel Air Force enters Syria's airspace on a daily basis, and estimated that the recent plane incident would not prompt a war with Syria, Nazareth-based al-Sinara newspaper reported.

According to the minister, the Israeli aircraft possibly entered the Syrian airspace by mistake.

On Thursday Syrian. Minister Bussaina Shaaban told al-Jazeera that Israeli aircraft "dropped bombs on an empty area while our air defenses were firing heavily at them.

"They intervened in our airspace... which they should not do -- we are a sovereign country and they should not come into airspace," he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday evening chose to keep silent on the unusual incident with Syria reported earlier in the day.

Olmert delivered a speech at a Kadima ceremony ahead of the Jewish New Year, and many of the attendees had expected him to address the Syrian report that an Israeli aircraft violated its airspace on Wednesday night. Instead, the prime minister referred to other security issues.

09-12-2007, 08:51 AM
Israel keeps up blackout on mystery Syria air strike



JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel on Wednesday maintained an official blackout on an apparent strike by its warplanes on Syria, amid reports that the mysterious attack targeted weapons financed by arch-foe Iran.

No official Israeli comment was issued on allegations that its military carried out an attack deep inside Syria last Thursday, despite confirmation of a strike by a defence official of Israel's main ally the United States.

Citing anonymous Israeli sources, an Arab Israeli newspaper, the Assennara, said on Wednesday that the jets "bombed in northern Syria a Syrian-Iranian missile base financed by Iran.... It appears that the base was completely destroyed."

The previous day CNN reported that the strike, which could also have involved the use of ground forces, was believed to have targeted weapons either coming into Syria or moving through Syria from Iran to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, Lebanon's Shiite militia that Israel fought in a war last year.

The New York Times also reported on Wednesday that Israel thinks Syria and Iran are buying nuclear material from North Korea and had recently carried out reconnaissance flights over Syria, taking pictures of possible nuclear installations.

A US administration official said Israeli officials believe that North Korea might be unloading some of its nuclear material on Syria, the newspaper said.

"The Israelis think North Korea is selling to Iran and Syria what little they have left," the unidentified official was quoted as saying.

Syria on Tuesday lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations over the "flagrant violation" of its airspace in the early hours of September 6, when it said its air defences opened fire on Israeli warplanes flying over the northeast of the country.

Earlier a US defence official said that Israel had carried out an air strike as a warning to Damascus.

"It wasn't big. It was a quick strike. They were engaged by the Syrians, they dropped their ordnance and scooted out of there," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He said he did not know the target of the strike, but said the US military believed it was aimed at sending a message to the Syrians over their support for Hezbollah.

"The Israelis are trying to tell the Syrians: 'Don't support a resurgence of Hezbollah in Lebanon'."

Israeli officials have refused to comment on the report, as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "specifically instructed ministers not to talk about the incident related to Syria at all," a senior Israeli government official told AFP earlier this week.

This silence -- uncharacteristic in a nation notorious for media leaks -- continued on Wednesday, with even visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner saying he was also being kept in the dark.

"I asked my hosts and they did not inform me," Kouchner told reporters in Jerusalem when asked about the reported strike, as he wrapped up his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

"If indeed... they have bombed a weapons convoy which was headed to Lebanon, we understand why they would do it," he said. "Everybody in Lebanon knows that large quantities of weapons arrive from the Syrian border."

Olmert bypassed his traditional interviews with Israeli newspapers ahead of the Jewish New Year that starts at sundown on Wednesday, leaving President Shimon Peres to mention Syria in only general terms.

"The central problem with Syria is Lebanon -- the question is to know whether Lebanon will be Lebanese or Iranian," Peres told public television. "The Syrians support Hezbollah and provide them with arms. As long as they continue on this route there will be tension in the air."

And Sylvan Shalom, a former foreign minister, told army radio: "Syria should draw the lessons from what happened and change its attitude to avoid being completely in the hands of Iran."

09-15-2007, 09:02 PM
Report: Suspected nuclear shipment prompted IAF raid over Syria
Prominent US expert on Middle East tells Washington Post IAF carried out raid over Syria three days after North Korean shipment arrived at country’s port carrying material labeled as cement


Published: 09.15.07, 13:59 / Israel News

An IAF raid over Syria allegedly occurred three days after the country received a shipment of material from North Korea labeled as cement, according to a senior US expert on the Middle East, as reported in the Washington Post Saturday.

The expert, who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to avoid compromising his sources, said the attack seemingly targeted a northern Syrian facility that was labeled an agricultural research center, close to the Turkish border.

According to the expert, Israel has kept a close eye on the facility, believing that Syria was using it to extract uranium from phosphates.

It was not clear what the ship arriving from North Korea was actually carrying, although Israeli sources largely believed it was delivering nuclear equipment, the expert told the Washington Post.

The ship arrived at the Syrian port of Tartus on September 3; the attack supposedly occurred on September 6.

The expert told the Washington Post that the attack was under such strict operational security that the pilots conducting the attack were briefed only after they were in the air.

Israel has remained ambiguous on the matter over the past nine days.

According to the Washington Post, the expert said Israel’s attitude was a sign that it had learned a lesson since destroying the Osiraq nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, and wanted to avoid condemnation by the international community by not bragging about the IAF’s alleged raid in Syria.

09-15-2007, 09:22 PM
A Mission of Mystery
Israel sends Iran a signal with a stealth raid into Syria.


By Dan Ephron and Mark Hosenball

Sept. 24, 2007 issue - Few things motivate arab spokesmen more than the chance to condemn Israel. Yet they were subdued when Israeli warplanes flew deep into Syrian airspace earlier this month. The Arab League called the incursion "unacceptable," but most Mideast governments kept quiet. Their lack of support for Damascus has much to do with Syria's close relationship to Iran, whose rising power they fear. But some Israeli officials and analysts are reading it optimistically, perhaps dangerously so. "You can learn something from it as to how the Arab world might react to an Israeli or American attack against strategic targets in Iran," says Yossi Alpher, a former Israeli intelligence official.

Whatever the Israeli planes were doing in Syria, Iran's nuclear program—which Tehran says is peaceful—couldn't help but loom over their mission. "It's a tacit reminder to Europe and to Washington that if they don't take a tougher action against Iran, Israel may have to do it alone," says Avner Cohen, a nuclear expert and a senior fellow at the United States Institute for Peace. Details of the Israeli operation remain hazy. Syria's ambassador to the United States told NEWSWEEK the Israeli warplanes dropped munitions in the open desert near Dayr az Zawr before fleeing; he promised his country would retaliate in a manner and at a time of its choosing. "Israel will not be permitted to do whatever it does without paying a price," says Imad Moustapha. But the unparalleled censorship Israel clamped on the operation has fueled speculation that the target could have been a missile factory or nuclear technology from North Korea. (Some U.S. intelligence sources say the latter claim is shaky.) The story of the Israeli operation appears to have begun with aerial photographs shot from a spy plane or satellite. A former U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, told NEWSWEEK that Israel showed the images of a site in northern Syria to a very small group of officials in Washington last month, suggesting it was part of a nuclear project underway with North Korean involvement. Bush administration neocons have long contended that Damascus was trying to buy nuclear material and that Pyongyang, alleged to have been selling missiles to Syria and Iran since the 1990s, could be a potential supplier. When North Korea issued an unusually loud condemnation of Israel last week, hard-liners like former U.N. ambassador John Bolton read it as possible evidence of Pyongyang's involvement in the matter.

But current and former U.S. intelligence officials, willing to speak only if they were not named, say they've seen no credible evidence yet of nuclear ties between North Korea and Syria, whether before or since the Israeli operation. David Albright, a former weapons inspector in Iraq, says allegations raised by Bolton prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect Syria's small nuclear research reactor and other sites in 2003. He says the agency found the claims to be "unsubstantiated." Even Bolton, who served as the State Department's under secretary for arms control and international security, acknowledged to NEWSWEEK that while in government, he never saw proof North Korea was sharing nuclear technology with Syria.

For Israel, the possibility of a nuclear-armed adversary might have been enough to warrant the operation. Officially in a state of war with Syria—and Iran—Israel has vowed to let neither country obtain nukes (though Israel itself is believed to have built at least 200 nuclear bombs in its secret Dimona plant). Earlier this year, according to a well-placed Israeli source, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked President Bush for assurances that if economic and political sanctions failed to get Iran to shut down its nuclear facilities, Bush would order the U.S. military to destroy them before he leaves office. Bush has yet to provide the assurances, according to the source, who refused to be quoted because he is not authorized to speak for the government. The source says the Israeli government believes the Iranians will reach the point of no return in their nuclear-enrichment program sometime next year.

U.S. intelligence agencies, by contrast, believe Iran is still two to eight years away from mastering the technology to build a bomb. Some officials warn that attacking Iran would mire U.S. forces in another messy war and might prove ineffective, since the Iranian facilities are believed to be scattered across the country and buried deep underground. Still, from Israel's perspective, there might never be a more supportive White House. "It makes sense that if Israel has to do it alone, it would want to do it on Bush's watch and not wait to see what the political attitude of the next administration will be," says Alpher. That Arab states, and the world, will look away next time might be too much to assume.

09-21-2007, 05:58 PM
Israel consulted US before Syria strike, report says


Mark Tran
Friday September 21, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Israel's decision to launch an air strike against a suspected nuclear site in Syria allegedly set up with the help of North Korea came after Israel shared intelligence with the US, it was reported today.

The attack on September 6 has been shrouded in mystery, although the Israeli opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, yesterday confirmed in a TV interview that such an attack did take place. His admission came despite a news blackout over the incident.

The Washington Post today shed more light on the raid, which has sparked widespread speculation that it was a dry run for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

The paper said the Bush administration was initially circumspect about Israel's claim that North Korea was helping Syria, and decided against an immediate response because of negotiations aimed at persuading Pyongyang to ditch its nuclear programme.

However, the US is believed to have provided Israel with some corroboration of the original intelligence before Israel went ahead with the raid, the Post said.

The operation reportedly was carried out under such strict secrecy that the pilots flying air cover for the attack aircraft did not know the details of the mission and the airmen who conducted the attack were briefed only after they were off the ground, the paper said.

The Israeli attack came three days after a North Korean ship docked at the Syrian port of Tartus carrying a cargo officially listed as cement.

The ship's contents remain in dispute, with some Israeli sources suggesting it was nuclear equipment. Others say the ship was carrying missile parts, while some have said the vessel's arrival and the attack were merely coincidental.

There is also scepticism about the intelligence that prompted the attack, as Syria has actively pursued chemical weapons in the past but not nuclear arms.

The incident remains the subject of much conjecture because, unlike after its destruction of an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, Israel has made no official comment about the attack and the Israeli media has been under strict censorship. For its part, Syria has made only muted protests, and Arab leaders have kept quiet.

Meanwhile, North Korea and Syria today held high-level talks in Pyongyang. The talks were between Choe Tae Bok, the secretary of the central committee of the North's ruling Workers' party, and Saaeed Eleia Dawood, the director of the organisational department of Syria's Ba'ath Arab Socialist party, the official Korean central news agency reported.

The two sides discussed ways of improving friendship and cooperation, and other issues of bilateral interest, KCNA said.

The meeting is bound to increase speculation about the exact nature of relations between the two countries. Both have denied reports of nuclear cooperation.

Andrew Semmel, the acting US deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation policy, said last week that North Koreans were in Syria, and that Syria may have had contacts with "secret suppliers" to obtain nuclear equipment.

As the latest details emerged about the Israeli raid, China said talks between North Korea and regional powers about ending Pyongyang's atomic weapons programme would resume in Beijing next week.

The announcement came a week after the lead US negotiator, Christopher Hill, said he expected to attend the talks despite the reports that Syria might have received North Korean nuclear help.

09-21-2007, 07:40 PM
If they start adding Iran to this equation I am going to go sweep out the bunker.

I hope you have a comfy matress in there.

09-22-2007, 09:43 PM
This is getting less encouraging by the day...