Posted by Joshua on Thursday, September 6th, 2007
What is this about? One has to believe it is an intentional provocation. Way up north along the Euphrates River near Turkey. The plans headed from the Mediterranean along the border with Turkey and dipped into Syrian airspace, one is led to believe. Were they on the way to the Iraqi boarder region? The reports try to link it to Syrian support for Hamas, but it makes no sense for Israeli plans to penetrate Syria way up north. In 2004, Israel was accused of setting off car bombs in Damascus that were rigged to kill Hamas leaders. In 2006, Israeli planes buzz over the presidential residence in Latakia.
All summer, there has been speculation in the Israeli press about a summer war with Syria. Most recently, Defense Minister Barak poured cold water on such speculation. He said there was no provocation and decided to withdraw Israeli military troops away from the Golan border in order to calm the situation and quell speculation about a military conflict between the two countries. He also wanted to reduce the risk of an "accidental incident" setting off an unwanted conflict.
Also see Yoav Stern's Haaretz report, "Syria: We fired on IAF jet that violated our airspace, dropped ammo." Some good quotes.
Addendum: The Israel Defense Forces declined to respond to the report, saying, “It is not our custom to respond to these kinds of reports.” But sources told Israeli media it appeared the IDF committed an “operational mishap.”
Israel’s air force regular trains in Turkey, raising the possibility that a warplane or warplanes had gone off course. Israel also conducts regular reconnaissance flights over Syria. (from Forward)
Israeli counterterrorism expert Boaz Ganor said that if Thursday's overflight occurred, it's possible Israel was “collecting intelligence on long-range missiles” deployed by Syria in the north, at a time when tension is running high between the two countries.
Israel accused of air raid on Syria
Thursday September 6, 2007, Guardian Unlimited
Syrian air defences opened fire on Israeli aircraft that violated Syrian airspace overnight, a Syrian military spokesman said today.
The Israeli planes broke the sound barrier and "dropped ammunition" over deserted areas of northern Syria, the official Syrian Arab news agency quoted the official as saying.
"We warn the Israeli enemy government against this flagrant aggressive act, and retain the right to respond in an appropriate way," the spokesman said.
Syria said the Israeli aircraft entered its territory through the northern border, coming from the Mediterranean and then heading east. "Air defence units confronted them and forced them to leave after they dropped some ammunition in deserted areas without causing any human or material damage," the spokesman said.
Witnesses said they heard five planes or more above the Tal al-Abiad area on Syria's border with Turkey, around 100 miles north of the Syrian city of Rakka. They said the planes then headed south.
Israel's military did not comment other than saying it was looking into the report. Israel acknowledges flying over Lebanon routinely but it is unclear how often it flies over Syria.
Israel has long warned Syria to stop supporting militant Palestinian groups and the Lebanese movement Hizbullah.
Syria last fired at Israeli aircraft in June 2006 when they buzzed the summer residence of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
Israeli officials said at the time that it was a message to Syria to stop its support for Hamas after the Palestinian militant group abducted an Israeli soldier in a raid into Israel from the Gaza Strip.