Israel Penetrates Syrian Airspace: Shots Fired

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)

Turkish PM ERDOGAN has just announced that "Israili Airplanes that are allegedly said bomb Syria did not take off from Turkey". (Thanks to Kaan Kutlu ATAC)

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.

Comments (32)


1. Akbar Palace said:

Responding to the Co-director, Centre of Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma:

What is this about?

This could be about Syrian and Iranian support (money, training, arming) of terrorists on Israel’s Northern border. Just a guess.

One has to believe it is an intentional provocation.

No, I think it was an al-Queda operation to make it look like an Israeli one. Sort of like what the Mossad did on 9-11.

Professor Josh,

I think the important question here is the following:

“Don’t the pilots of these Israeli fighters read Ha’aretz?”

Also, another question I would like answered is:

“What did the Turks do when the Israeli planes flew so close to the Turkish border?” I haven’t heard a word from those crazy Turks. Have you?

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September 6th, 2007, 4:13 pm

 

2. norman said:

israel is testing the Syrian deffence system to see if the new Rusian weapons are as good as they say before the future war ,Israel might be looking for a way to Iran over Syria.

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September 6th, 2007, 4:22 pm

 

3. Samuel said:

For what it’s worth (i.e. not much), there was a *rumor* early this very morning about the US bombing a military base in the vicinity (4 km) of Deir Ez Zor — so presumably in Syria. I got it from a friend over there. I wonder if there is a link.

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September 6th, 2007, 4:29 pm

 

4. Innocent_Criminal said:

its hard to speculate on such things because there are a lot of maybe’s. it could be that they are testing the new defense system but its unlikely that they need to fly over syria to get to iran. you also cannot rule out what might have happened that we the public dont know about. it could be a message to syria for doing something we havent heard about.

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September 6th, 2007, 4:38 pm

 

5. norman said:

Technically , Israel does not have to go over Syria to reach Iran but politically that is the only way to avoid flying over Turkey , KSA or Jordon,
In June 1973 Israel attacked a military base in Latakia to see if Syria would use SAM 6 , Syria did not and waited till 10/06 1973.

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September 6th, 2007, 5:14 pm

 

6. Frank al Irlandi said:

Aren’t there reports of Israeli and American Special Forces operating out of Kurdistan?

If they got into a hole they might call for air cover.

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September 6th, 2007, 5:22 pm

 

7. Disaffection said:

Ak Pal, you are such a romantic and a drama queen for believing that this very incident, was ignited due to the “support (money, training, arming) of terrorists on Israel’s Northern border. Just a guess.” guess again.
The IAF isn’t gonna decide to venture out on Syrian air space for the rhetorical reasons you barked out.
The Israeli government refrained from commenting so far. I think the true reasons will reveal themselves soon enough and as IC just mentioned, there far too many maybe’s. I believe the cause is far more acute than this.

And why should you hear a word from Turkey by the way?

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September 6th, 2007, 5:23 pm

 

8. majedkhaldoun said:

this is Israeli evil aggression, Israel always provokes, and then Akbar palace defends Israel,hopefully this will open his eyes to the truth, as expected, Israel initiated hostile activities,let the blind see who is the terrorist now.
how long we will tolerate terrorism by Israel,since israel begining, it initiated attacks on Syria, and then lies,and claim the opposit, what kind of lies Joe libermann will say now?

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September 6th, 2007, 5:35 pm

 

9. why-discuss said:

it could just be intimidation, show of strength from humiliated and impotent isreali army…

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September 6th, 2007, 5:38 pm

 

10. majedkhaldoun said:

planes that are intended for intelligence will not come in five,nor it would drop ammunition, Syria must complain to the United nations about this flagrant aggression.

the silly thing is that CNN said SYRIA FIRED ON ISRAELI JET, it sure sounded that Syria started the attack.

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September 6th, 2007, 5:49 pm

 

11. MSK said:

Josh-

What if it wasn’t even an Israeli plane?

Just a thought …

I am very amused by how quickly people jump to (foregone) conclusions.

–MSK*

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September 6th, 2007, 5:54 pm

 

12. Samuel said:

OK, more from my source on the ground : the Syrian military base next to Deir Ez Zor was hit by an airstrike last night around 1:30 AM. That’s significantly much farther to the South than what was implied by the various reports. There are casualties on the base.

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September 6th, 2007, 7:13 pm

 

13. Rancher said:

So maybe it was the US’s evil aggression, always we provoke, initiate hostile activities,let the blind see who is the terrorist now. Bush Hitler! Halliburton! 24 hour rule till we see who they shot at and where.

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September 6th, 2007, 7:27 pm

 

14. Nour said:

Samuel,

Is your source someone on the ground near there? How did he/she get this info?

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September 6th, 2007, 7:27 pm

 

15. Samuel said:

> Nour

A friend in Deir Ez Zor who spoke with several (self-proclaimed) eyewitnesses — they said they saw/heard the planes and the bombing. Before the Israeli raid was announced, in the confusion, they speculated that the planes might be American ones. My friend sent me a text message to ask if there was something about it in the international news, but there wasn’t, not until three or four hours later.

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September 6th, 2007, 7:51 pm

 

16. Nour said:

Samuel,

How does your friend know that there were casualties in the military base?

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September 6th, 2007, 8:11 pm

 

17. SimoHurtta said:

Strange reactions from Israel.

23:19 Russia urges Israel to respect international law, expresses `extreme concern` (Reuters)
23:34 PM on reported IAF incident in Syria: I don`t know what you`re talking about (Haaretz)

Why to delay admitting? Certainly there are enough radar station, spy ships, AWACs, satellites etc in the area that the attackers origin can’t be unclear to the numerous military forces interested in the area.

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September 6th, 2007, 8:55 pm

 

18. t_desco said:

Lead investigator taken off Hariri case
By Mirella Hodeib
Daily Star staff
Friday, September 07, 2007

BEIRUT: The Lebanese judiciary relieved Judge Elias Eid on Thursday of his responsibilities as investigating magistrate in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri Hariri.

“Beirut’s Cassation Court, headed by Magistrate Ralph Riachi, issued a decision on Monday to have Eid replaced,” a judicial report said.

The name of Eid’s replacement was not immediately made public. …
The Daily Star

How about a kangaroo?

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September 6th, 2007, 9:36 pm

 

19. MSK said:

SH-

I am still wondering how the Syrian army “knows” that it was one or more Israeli planes, as opposed to ones from another country. It’s not like they have Hebrew radar signatures …

Plane(s) enter Syrian airspace from the Med/Turkey & fly “faster than the speed of sound” eastward across northern Syria -> why not Turkish? or American?

Obviously, it’s not unlikely that those were, indeed, Israeli planes. If so, I my money would then be on them having been on a training mission to try to find out if Israeli planes could cross northern Syria en route to Iran, in case the IAF wants to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. Carrying heavy payloads (which they dropped last night) would fit into that scenario.

Still, I am very amused by the automatized responses by pretty much all parties involved, including the commenters here @ SC.

–MSK*

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September 6th, 2007, 9:40 pm

 

20. t_desco said:

DNA tests on body thought to be Abssi’s come back negative
Army captures seven militants, kills one as celebrations go on
By Rym Ghazal
Friday, September 07, 2007

The Lebanese Army continued on Thursday to hunt down fleeing members of Fatah al-Islam, killing one and capturing seven within the vicinity of the battered Northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared as DNA tests came back negative for a body earlier identified as that of Shaker al-Abssi-leader of the group.

According to the National News agency, one militant was killed and three others were arrested following clashes in Abdeh north of Nahr al-Bared. It said another two Fatah al-Islam militants were captured after a chase in Wadi Jamous.

The army source added that another two members of Fatah al-Islam were hiding in abandoned farm houses in the green fields near the camp.

Umm Ali and her son fought the two men – Talal al-Saaili and Mobarak al-Qarbi, both described as being from the Gulf – until the security forces arrived and arrested them.

Security sources said that among the seven captured, three of the men reportedly had Asian features and did not carry identification papers, two of them were from the Gulf and one was from Algeria.

Al-Hayat published a report on Thursday detailing the connection between Fatah al-Islam and Al-Qaeda, with several Saudi members of Al-Qaeda being based in Tripoli and had met with the slain military commander of Fatah al-Islam, Abu Huriera. …
The Daily Star

“Asian features” – any idea what that means in this context? Central Asian? Indian? Malay? Chinese??

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September 6th, 2007, 9:59 pm

 

21. SimoHurtta said:

I am still wondering how the Syrian army “knows” that it was one or more Israeli planes, as opposed to ones from another country. It’s not like they have Hebrew radar signatures

I doubt Turkey has any reason to make such attacks. USA maybe, the strange Israeli behaviour could hint in that direction.

I am no military expert but radars have long range (from hundreds to thousands kilometres). The planes came from somewhere and returned to somewhere. The Israeli-Lebanese-Syrian coast is full of military ships not to mention other gadgets on the sky and land so it would be astonishing if USA, NATO, EU armies, Russia, China, Turkey etc would not know the identity of the planes and would not have been following the events.

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September 6th, 2007, 10:20 pm

 

22. Habib said:

Katie Couric: Sharmouta Jiddan

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September 6th, 2007, 10:33 pm

 

23. MSK said:

SH-

It could’ve been a Turkish plane off-course. I’m not saying that it’s likely, but it’s possible.

As for radars – they don’t reach hundreds or thousands of km. And all a radar says is “there’s a thingy flying up there” and then the humans use computers to calculate speed & height & direction and thence probable origin & intention. They also may have friend/foe recognition, although Syrian stations would – if at all – only distinguish between “ours / not ours”.

As for all those other powers – yes, they would know it wasn’t one of theirs but they wouldn’t necessarily know whose it was. And none have good enough communication lines to Syria for the latter to call and ask “Are those yours?”

In the end, the most likely candidates are, of course, Israeli or US planes.

I was just pointing out the instant denunciations.

–MSK*

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September 6th, 2007, 10:56 pm

 

24. number6 said:

Need more data. We’ve heard approximately where these aircraft entered Syrian airspace, but not much about where they went after that. Did they turn round and head back into Turkish airspace, head south-west towards Israel/Lebanon, or go in some other direction?
@Disaffection- If it’s a Turkish airforce stuff-up, Turkey can come clean immediately, but Turkey would look very lame, even stupid and duplicitous, if they try to deny all knowledge when there is clear evidence of a border crossing, like radar records, drop tanks etc. World + dog would conclude that they were covering for USA/Israel- which would be a curious action given US/Turkey tension over the Kurdish situation.
Of course, the Israeli Government has been having a rough time recently, so a bit of an international threat would be useful to distract attention from domestic shortcomings. But how to find a manageable international threat? Easy- poke Syria with a stick (but not hard enough for them to react physically).

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September 6th, 2007, 11:53 pm

 

25. Frank al Irlandi said:

Of course the publicity might just be to show that syrian radar coverage will give the iranians early warning of some inbound aircraft.

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September 7th, 2007, 3:37 am

 

26. Innocent_Criminal said:

here is a nice analysis from the israeli side that even cites Syriacomment

http://www.prospectsforpeace.com/2007/09/piecing_together_whats_just_ha.html

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September 8th, 2007, 6:44 am

 

27. Thomas said:

This flagrant violation of Syrian airspace is the latest chapter in a vast Neocon conspiracy designed to insure Zionist dominance over the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. The pilots of the jets are part of a new Neocon military unit trained by Washington and manned by Israeli and Syrian expatriates. It is rumored that the unit is being financed by Saad Harirri, the son of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harirri, who was killed by Lebanese Forces sympathizers. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton )(now sporting a full beard and wearing a turban) has been seen in the Ankara Turkey area where it is rumored that he is the political officer for the new covert Neocon air wing. The new Neocon air wing is equipped with F-16D model aircraft with a digitally enhanced camouflage resembling the likenesses of George Bush and Dick Chenney painted on each wing. The F-16D equipment is updated with new AIM-10 Neocon antiradiation missiles designed to take out sophisticated Russian missile systems, Iranian centrafuges, or Bin Laden smoking his hooka.

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September 8th, 2007, 3:04 pm

 

28. SyriaComment - Syrian politics, history, and religion » Archives » “OSyria 1″? said:

[…] One Syria Comment reader claims that friends of his in Deir al-Zor reported a military attack. This is what he wrote on the day of the attack: OK, more from my source on the ground : the Syrian military base next to Deir Ez Zor was hit by an air strike last night around 1:30 AM. That’s significantly much farther to the South than what was implied by the various reports. There are casualties on the base. […]

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September 9th, 2007, 2:13 pm

 

29. Ghassan said:

I think that Syria should show its pride and start bombing Israel and later declare a divine victory!!! Where are the men in Syria to defend it? Time to go to the Golan Height and start liberating it from Israel!

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September 10th, 2007, 1:22 am

 

30. האמת (?) על התקרית בסוריה מפי אזרח סורי. said:

[…] Samuel said: A friend in Deir Ez Zor who spoke with several (self-proclaimed) eyewitnesses — they said they saw/heard the planes and the bombing. Before the Israeli raid was announced, in the confusion, they speculated that the planes might be American ones. My friend sent me a text message to ask if there was something about it in the international news, but there wasn’t, not until three or four hours later. September 6th, 2007, 7:51 pm […]

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September 10th, 2007, 10:33 pm

 

31. 2jk.org:: Intellect or Insanity» Blog Archive » Neither Confirm Nor Deny said:

[…] 0. No one really knows what went on there, in Northern Syria, last week. Rumors say that Israel might have attacked Syria. But in a state where no one confirms, nor denies the existance of an International Incident, though Syria sends thick clues. But is there really a certain truth that could escape the internet? could it be that a barren and distant forum has four commentators sitting and explaining what they saw that night? […]

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September 11th, 2007, 3:34 pm

 

32. » לא מאשר ולא מכחיש| הבלוג של יהונתן קלינגר | said:

[…] 0. אף אחד לא באמת יודע מה היה שם, בצפון סוריה, בשבוע שעבר. השמועות אומרות שיתכן וישראל תקפה בסוריה. אולם מדובר במצב בו אף אחד לא מאשר ולא מכחיש את קיומה של תקרית בינלאומית, למרות רמזים עבים מצד סוריה. אבל האם באמת ישנה אמת כלשהיא בעולם שיכולה לחמוק מהאינטרנט? האם לא ייתכן שבפורום נידח בקצה הרשת יושבים ארבעה טוקבקיסטים ומספרים מה הם ראו באותו לילה? […]

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September 19th, 2007, 10:21 am

 

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