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17 Sep 2007 08:24
Israel has enforced a news blackout on what may be its air force’s most audacious raid since its jets destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in 1981. The Israeli government has made no comment about the raid on what is believed to be a nuclear installation in Syria and Israeli newspapers have been forbidden to write anything on the subject.
When asked about the raid, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, refused to provide details.
“The security services and Israeli defence forces are demonstrating unusual courage.
Instead the details of the raid have been leaked to a series of foreign newspapers. According to the leaks, eight Israeli F-15 bombers entered Syrian airspace in the early hours of September 6. They successfully evaded Syrian radar and air defences and attacked a research establishment on the Euphrates river in northern Syria, destroying it completely.
Israeli intelligence believes that North Korea, which has provided missile technology to Syria in the past, has started supplying nuclear materials in recent months. On leaving Syria, the Israeli planes jettisoned their extra fuel tanks over Turkey.
While news of the raid spread rapidly through the Israeli defence, media and political circles, the government insisted on complete silence. According to Syria the Israeli planes flew into its airspace at supersonic speed from the Mediterranean. They were attacked by Syrian air defences and dropped their munitions which caused no damage and then left, Syria said.
Miri Eisin, the spokesperson for Olmert, reiterated the government line. “We do not respond to media speculation.” If the leaks are true, the raid would have been Israel’s most dramatic attack since its jets destroyed the Osirak reactor just outside Baghdad. Without an official confirmation of what happened from either Syria or Israel, speculation has flourished. Possible targets have included Iranian arms supplies for Syria, Hezbollah or Palestinian militant training bases. However, the flow of information from the US seems to confirm that the target was a North Korean-Syrian project which Israel believed would have led to Syria gaining nuclear capability.
Robert Gates, the US Secretary for Defence, would not comment on the Israeli air raid, in Washington on Sunday. “We are watching the North Koreans very carefully. We watch the Syrians very carefully,” he said. “If such an activity were taking place, it would be a matter of great concern.” - Guardian Unlimited Â
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