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US officials confirm Israeli strike on Yakhont missiles in Syria



US officials have confirmed that Israel recently carried out a strike against Yakhont missiles near Latakia, Syria on July 5. Threat Matrix had previously reported on the incident on July 9.

CNN reports:

A series of explosions on July 5 at a critical Syrian port was the result of airstrikes by Israeli warplanes, according to multiple U.S. officials. Regional media widely reported the predawn explosions at Latakia, but no one had officially claimed responsibility.

Three U.S. officials told CNN the target of the airstrikes were Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles that Israel believes posed a threat to its naval forces. The officials declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the information.


There is strong reason to believe that the Yakhont missiles targeted by Israel were those described by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times in mid-May. The Journal even noted that Israel would possibly look to target the shipment "in the near future." The day before both reports, the Times quoted an Israeli official as saying that Israel was prepared to carry out additional strikes in Syria if necessary.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on July 9 denied that Israel was responsible for the incident in Latakia, according to Ynet News. "We haven't intervened in the Syrian bloodshed in a long time .... We've drawn our red lines and we keep to them," he said.

Since the start of the uprising against Bashar al Assad in Syria, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has carried out at least three other strikes in Syria.

In late January, the IAF reportedly struck targets near the Scientific Studies and Research Center (Centre D'Etudes et de Recherches Scientifiques) in Jamraya. According to reports, the IAF targeted a weapons convoy, which included Russian-made SA-17 antiaircraft missiles, near the facility.

While some reports of the January strike suggested that the SSRC facility itself was targeted and "flattened," satellite imagery revealed that the facility, known for its ties to Syria's chemical weapons program, was relatively unscathed. The images did show a burnt road near the facility, possibly indicating the location of the Syrian weapons convoy when it was hit, however.

In early May, the IAF carried out two separate strikes in Syria. The first strike on May 3 reportedly targeted Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missiles from Iran, which were located at Damascus International Airport. The second strike on May 5 reportedly retargeted the SSRC facility that was struck in January.

In at least two of the three attacks prior to the most recent alleged strike, Israeli aircraft never actually entered Syrian air space, according to press reports.

Although Israeli officials have not taken official responsibility for any of the alleged strikes, they have repeatedly warned that they are prepared to act in Syria to prevent Hezbollah and other terror groups from obtaining advanced weaponry.

In the coming days and weeks it will be interesting to watch whether American officials issue an apology to their Israeli counterparts for confirming last Friday's strike, as occurred after the May strikes. In addition, it will be interesting to see if satellite images or on-the-ground video or photos emerge, as was the case with all of the previous strikes.



READER COMMENTS: "US officials confirm Israeli strike on Yakhont missiles in Syria"

Posted by Jeff Edelman at July 12, 2013 8:15 PM ET:

You have to love the Israelis, don't you?

Posted by Steve m at July 12, 2013 9:28 PM ET:

The world is on the brink of war, but more importantly, do you think GZ will be found guilty or innocent?

Posted by Will Fenwick at July 13, 2013 1:06 AM ET:

I wonder what the operating status of Syria's Mig 25s and Mig 29s are. Its interesting that Syria has not attempted to repel these airstrikes, at least for propaganda purposes.

Posted by Jon at July 13, 2013 9:02 AM ET:

Just like Israel to hit a country at a time of weakness. Like Syria, embattled in conflict is going to send their weapons to attack Israel, its preposterous. Israel is supporting Al Qaeada here and when they finally do take over Syria they will be a much bigger problem then Assad ever was and I hope so. People must realize you reap what you sow

Posted by sundoesntrise at July 13, 2013 12:19 PM ET:

Will,

Assad has never truly been an enemy of Israel. He and his father only used them as a way to suppress their own citizens under the pretext of them being "Israeli spies", etc.

Assad knows that if he actually does retaliate against Israel, his regime will be very, very swiftly decimated. The so called "resistance axis" NEEDS Israel to exist, since the entire existence of the "resistance axis" is based against Israel. If Israel one day ceased to exist then the "resistance axis" and the power they hold over their own people would melt away.

Posted by mike merlo at July 13, 2013 3:32 PM ET:

@Jon
would you rather have those Forces opposing the Assad Regime acquire/gain access to weapons systems described in the 'article?' Its in Israel's & the region at large best interests for Israel to destroy or render useless those weapons or weapons systems capable of being used from a distance or with enhanced chemical/biological uses.

Posted by mr burns at July 13, 2013 4:52 PM ET:

Hexbollah is fighting for Assad along with Iran, Israel certainly needs to keep advanced weaponry away from Hezbollah so attacks on such weapons make sense. What doesnt make much sense is why the US would identify Israel as the perpetrator. This can only cause problems with Russia for the Israelis. Maybe Obama is trying to score points with Putin by selling out an "ally", like he did with Poland ?

Posted by Tam at July 13, 2013 6:23 PM ET:

Why would Obama finger Israel a staunch ally and betray her to Putin and Assad to retaliate???

Mark Langfan wrote that the only anti-Assad action Obama actually took was to have "three unnamed U.S. officials" (not one, but three officials) specifically name Israel as the guilty party that destroyed the Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles at Latakia last Thursday.

So, not only does Obama prevaricate to the Saudis, he also exposes the possible covert Israeli anti-Assad military blows. Why is Obama dissembling to and harming America's only two remaining Middle East allies? Is Obama publicly goading Assad to launch a retaliatory strike at Israel by embarrassing him with Israel's Latakia strike?

It's simple. Obama doesn't see a Middle East with either Israel or Saudi Arabia. Is this a radical statement? In the most under-reported news story of the Middle East, on Obama's post-election March 2013 trip to Israel, Obama privately laid out his vision of a Saudi Arabia-less Middle East to Netanyahu's inner circle. It was reported in the World Tribune that:

"Diplomatic sources said President Barack Obama has proposed an alliance by [as of then Muslim Brotherhood] Egypt, Iran and Turkey."

“Obama was telling [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that these countries would stabilize the region and should be supported,” a source said.

Posted by anonymous at July 16, 2013 2:27 PM ET:

@mr_burns, it is no secret that israel is being strongly supported by israel. So the admittence that the air strike was Israels doing is just provocation towards Russia. Russia is supplying the Assad Regime with weapons, US is supplying the FSA. It is no coincidence that Israel is finding and destroying Russian weapons with ease.

Syria is just another proxy war for US vs Russia hostilities.

The US is profitting off maintaining control of the sale of oil in the region. With out this control over the oil trade (which can only occur in USD) the US dollar would fall to less than half of what it is worth, overnight.