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Solving the puzzle: Israeli air incursion in Syria

09/12/2007

Speculation regarding the Israeli air-incursion in Syria is rife. Various articles claim that Israel attacked Iranian targets in Syria Israel attacked nuclear targets in Syria and Israel attacked missile batteries brought to Syria from Iran.

Two major pieces do not fit the puzzle in all these speculations. The first, is why Israel chose to risk US wrath by disturbing the peace before the upcoming November summit, and the second is why Israel is keeping mum about the target. Israel has been unusually silent about this operation, and the US has been quite silent too.

If Syrians are getting Iranian technology, or transferring Iranian technology to the Hizbolla, it is greatly to Israel's advantage to advertise the nature of the target and to provide proof, in order to justify the incursions. This time however, there were no aerial reconnaisance photos and no press conferences, despite the supposed need of the IDF to regain prestige after its mediocre performance in the Lebanon war. Likewise the Syrians are keeping mum about the target.

A probable explanation that fis the missing pieces into the puzzle lies in a somewhat different direction. The Russians are developing naval bases in Tartus and Latakia. To support and defend these bases, the Russians may have been installing versions of the Pantsyr-1 (SA-22 or SA-19) missile system. Syria has also reportedly purchased the Pantsyr system and is rumored to be transferring it to Iran. Or possibly, the Russians may have installed and manned a listening post, similar to the one that did so much damage in the recent Lebanon war. The proximity to the Turkish border tends to support the idea that the target may have had something to do with the Russian naval bases.

The Pantsyr has mobile and stationary versions, and can cover a radius of at least 20 KM. In a war, it could be moved to provide an air umbrella for Syrian incursions into Israel. If not the Pantsyr, then perhaps a more advanced system was installed, one that the Russians would not allow the Syrians to touch.

If Russian technicians or military personnel were at risk in the strike, then for obvious reasons Israel would have no interest in advertising the nature of the target, the Russians would have no interest in admitting their presence, and the United States would be quite happy with the result. If not Russians, then the target had to be some other nationality that is not supposed to be in the Middle East, and which Israel would be reluctant to reveal.

I do not have any inside knowledge, and do not offer this theory as more than conjectural speculation. But when you have eliminated all other explanations, what remains, however improbable, must be the solution.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000624.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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