July 30, 2006
Is Syrian Shoot-Down of Israeli Drone A Move Towards Full blown War?
By Rob Kall
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Israel and Syria, whether they like it or not, may be moving closer to full blown war. The messages they announce and the actions they are taking are definitely not clear, nor consistent.
Syrian air defense batteries ambushed and shot down an Israeli spy drone (picture) flying on the Lebanese side of the border with Syria.
These drones have been used to â€œpaintâ€ the weapons convoys heading in from Syria, for the Israeli air force to hit them before they can reach their destinations and replenish Hizballah stockpiles.
This time, the Syrians knocked the drone out of the sky to allow a large consignment of rocket launchers and truckloads of rockets to cross into Lebanon undetected and safe from Israeli air attack.
The pilotless craft crashed on the eastern slopes of Jebel Barukh. The IDF bulletin evaded mention of the Syrian role and reported that a technical fault had caused the crash and the fragments had been destroyed from the air to prevent their falling into the hands of Hizballah.
While Israeli leaders reiterate constantly that Israel has no intention of going to war with Syria, Damascus openly supports Hizballah with massive injections of weapons and other aid. It has already crossed several red lines.
1. A Syrian weapons system opened fire on an Israeli target for the first time.
2. The ambush of the Israeli drone by Syrian air defenses was a calculated move to clear the way for Syrian convoys loaded with rockets and rocket launchers to roll into Lebanon free of constant bombardment by Israel warplanes.
3. The drone was shot down while flying in Lebanese air space. This was a signal from Damascus to Israel that it would not scruple to target Israeli military forces inside Lebanon when its interests were deemed to be in jeopardy. Earlier this week, the Syrian information minister Buthaina Chabane declared that if Israeli artillery came within 20 km of Damascus, Syria would fight.
Amping up the conflict to bring in Syria could be a very dangerous move for Israel, since last year, Syria made a deal with Russia for 600+ pound warhead, 400 kilometer range Iskander SS-26 missiles.
UK's Telegraph reports Israelis edge closer to war with Syria;
Israel and Syria appeared to be edging closer to direct military confrontation last night after tit-for-tat attacks around the Lebanese border and the revelation that a new type of long-range missile fired into Israel by Hezbollah was built in Syria.
Tension between the two countries over the war in Lebanon was growing as both Tel Aviv and Damascus readied their forces for the possibility of a direct clash. Israeli intelligence reported that Syrian forces had been put onto their highest state of alert, while Israel has called up 15,000 reservists who many believe will be despatched as reinforcements to the disputed Golan Heights, between the two countries. Last night an explosives expert with the Israeli police concluded that the "unknown" missile fired by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah at the town of Afula on Friday, 30 miles inside the Israeli border, was Syrian-made, and was capable of reaching Tel Aviv, the country's largest city.
Earlier in the day, Israeli warplanes struck Masnaa, the main crossing point between Lebanon and Syria, with three missiles leaving craters in the middle of the road, forcing the border to close. Witnesses said the Israelis targeted and destroyed the last building before the Syrian border.
On Thursday Syria claimed to have shot down an Israeli spy plane in the same area, flying on the Lebanese side of the border. Israel, which admitted only to a "technical fault", uses unmanned "drones" to locate weapons convoys heading from Syria towards Hezbollah's strongholds within Lebanon, in order for the Israeli air force to strike the convoys before they can reach the front line.
But neither Syria nor Israel may WANT to up the ante. People's Daily on-line reports that Syria is DENYING shooting down the drone;
A Syrian air force official on Friday denied reports that Syrian air defense force had shot down an Israeli scout, the independent Syria news website reported.
The official was quoted as saying that an Israeli scout flew over the Becaa Valley on Thursday near the Syrian border and that it was Lebanese air force which opened fire at it, not Syrian air force.
The official added that the Israeli scout did not attack any air defense base in Syria.
A Lebanese paper earlier reported that Syrian air force had shot down an Israeli plane which had entered Syrian airspace and shot at Syrian bases.
And Israel has good cause to hesitate in escalating the situation with Syria, since Syria has SCUD missiles which Syria classifies as "defensive." That may not satisfy neocons in the Bush administration. Yet many experts on the region, such as former UN WMD arms inspector Scott Ritter and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern expect that ultimately, the US will end up at war with Iran (iraq war forum and private communications.) It is hard to imagine conflict with Iran without Syria getting into the picture.
Authors Bio: Rob Kall is executive editor and publisher of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and organizer of several conferences, including StoryCon, the Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story and The Winter Brain Meeting on neurofeedback, biofeedback, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology. He is a frequent Speaker on Politics, The art, science and power of story, Positive Psychology, Stress, Biofeedback and a wide range of subjects. See more of his articles here and, older ones, here.