Remember those reports 10 days ago that Israeli aircraft had overflown Syria and were forced to drop fuel tanks and skedaddle when Syrian air defenses engaged the Israelis?
Last week American officials confirmed that Israeli warplanes had attacked inside Syria:
A Defense Department official said Israeli jets had struck at least one target in northeastern Syria last Thursday, but the official said it was still unclear exactly what the jets hit and the extent of the bombing damage.According to the New York Times, Israeli officials believe that North Korea is selling some of its nuclear material to and Syria.
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Officials in Washington said that the most likely targets of the raid were weapons caches that Israel’s government believes has been sending the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah through Syria. and Syria are Hezbollah’s primary benefactors, and American intelligence officials say a steady flow of munitions from runs through Syria and into Lebanon.
Today the Sunday Times reports that the Israeli air strike destroyed a cache of nuclear materials:
IT was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.
At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames.
Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.
The Times reports preparations for the attack began in late spring, when the Mossad, learned that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea. Israel feared such a device could eventually be installed on North-Korean-made Scud-C missiles:
We’ve known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scuds, but Israel can’t live with a nuclear warhead.Syria has purchased between 60 and 120 Scud-C missiles from North Korea.
The Israeli air strike again puts the world on notice that Israel will not dither indefinitely while the rest of the world watches diplomacy fail to solve the problem of terrorist states, such as and Syria pursue nuclear programs. The attack also demonstrates that the vaunted air defense systems Russia sold to Syria and aren't as effective as advertised.
Is anyone else wondering if the Israeli attack was against Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction?
UPDATE: Newsweek suggests that Israel's Syrian raid is warning for 's nuclear program:
"It's a tacit reminder to Europe and to Washington that if they don't take a tougher action against , Israel may have to do it alone," says Avner Cohen, a nuclear expert and a senior fellow at the United States Institute for Peace.The Guardian goes further calling the Syrian raid a dry run for an attack against 's nuclear facilities:
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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 —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).
Two detachable tanks from an Israeli fighter were found just over the Turkish border. According to Turkish military sources, they belonged to a Raam F15I - the newest generation of Israeli long-range bomber, which has a combat range of over 2,000km when equipped with the drop tanks. This would enable them to reach targets in , leading to speculation that it was an 'operation rehearsal' for a raid on Tehran's nuclear facilities.
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So Operation Orchard can be seen as a dry run, a raid using the same heavily modified long-range aircraft, procured specifically from the US with 's nuclear sites in mind. It reminds both and Syria of the supremacy of its aircraft and appears to be designed to deter Syria from getting involved in the event of a raid on - a reminder, if it were required, that if Israel's ground forces were humiliated in the second Lebanese war its airforce remains potent, powerful and unchallenged.
At Captain's Quarters, Ed Morrissey writes that Syrian nukes would result in an immediate war with Israel which could involve the U.S.