At this point it has become obvious that far more is going on behind the scenes than what we are reading in the MSM articles, commentaries and news stories regarding Syria. At first, an attack by the U.S. appeared imminent as the infamous 'red line' had been crossed, presumably by the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Strong rebuttals came from both Syria and Russia, demanding evidence - evidence that has either not been produced or revealed to Russian authorities.
Then came the threats by the axis of Iran-Russia-Syria. Then we saw what appeared to be a back-down by the U.S., and an announced delay in any action against the Syrian government.
Yet the U.S. continues to send military into the region in a relatively large buildup of warships - which is continuing to this day.
So what is really going on here?
Rumors are circulating - and today we have at least a couple of articles which may shed some light on the situation, but the facts around what is really going on remain a mystery:
"The pressure being applied by the United States causes particular concern," Russian Defense Ministry official Oleg Dogayev was quoted as saying by the state-run Itar-Tass news agency.
He said "the dispatch of ships armed with cruise missiles toward Syria's shores has a negative effect on the situation in the region."
Five U.S. destroyers and an amphibious ship are in the Mediterranean, poised for possible cruise missile strikes against Syria, and U.S. officials said the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and four other ships in its strike group moved into the Red Sea on Monday.
The US and Israeli Tuesday, Sept. 3, carried out a joint anti-missile missile test in the Mediterranean to prepare for a possible Syrian-Hizballah attack on Israel and Jordan in retaliation for the planned US military strike on Syria. US and Israel officials reported that the Israeli Ankor (Sparrow) was used as the target missile for testing the interceptors.
According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the test demonstrated that since delaying his planned strike on Syria last Saturday, President Barack Obama has revised his plans and instead of “a narrow, limited” attack is contemplating a broader offensive for degrading the Assad regime. The arrival of the USS Nimitzaircraft carrier in the Red Sea is further evidence of this intention.
The missile trial also indicates an updated US-Israeli consensus that Iran, Syrian and Hizballah mean business by the mounting level of the threats to fire missiles at Israel, Jordan and Turkey if the Americans go through with their strike against Syria. Such retaliation cold lead to the Syrian conflict expanding substantially into a regional war, which Moscow, Tehran and Damascus have in the last 48 hours admitted was virtually unavoidable.
Russia on Tuesday announced that its missile early warning station at Armavir on the Black Sea had detected the launch of two missiles from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea fired towards the Sea's eastern coastline. Armavir was set up to track missile launches from Europe and Iran.
According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, US warships cruising opposite the Syrian coast and carrying Aegis anti-missile missiles, alongside Tomahawk cruise missiles ready for the strike on Syria, did take part in the test.
Two “ballistic targets” detected Tuesday in the Mediterranean by the Russian military were launched by the Israeli military as part of a joint US-Israeli test of its missile defense system, an official in Tel Aviv said.
“The launches we’re talking about were a test of the Anchor target missile that is used for testing our missile defense system,” an Israeli Defense Ministry representative told RIA Novosti.
The launch was part of joint tests with the US military and were successfully tracked by radars in Israel, the official added.
So with the world on the edge, and everyone waiting for the "other side" to take the initiative and send a an immediate triggerhappy response, the US and Israel decided to conduct a cruise missile "test" in a hot zone, without warning Russia or anyone else in advance?
Moments ago Russian RIA news agency reported that Russia’s Defense Ministry said, citing its ballistic missile early warning system, that the launch of two "ballistic targets" has been detected in the Mediterranean, "The launch was detected at 10:16 Moscow time (06:16 GMT) by a radar in the southern Russian city of Armavir, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Immediately conflicting reports about the source of the launch emerged: Reuters initially said that "Israel said on Tuesday it was unaware of any ballistic missile launch being conducted in the eastern Mediterranean. "We are not aware, at this time, of such an event having occurred," a military spokeswoman in Jerusalem said after a Russian news agency reported the launch of two ballistic "objects" from the central part of the sea eastward."
Oddly enough, seconds ago more headlines hit Bloomberg which refuted the Reuters report, and determined that it was indeed Israel which had hit the launch button:
- ISRAEL SAYS ROCKET LAUNCH WAS TEST OF MISSILE DEFENSE: RIA
- ISRAEL SAYS MISSILE LAUNCH WAS TEST, ISRAEL ARMY RADIO SAYS
On the other end, US Navy's 6th Fleet said no US ships have launched missiles in Eastern Mediterranean despite Russia defence ministry reports.
So on the surface, it appears a missile was launched by Israel, which knows full well that with tensions already at an unprecedented levels, this in itself would likely have been the straw that breaks the camel's back and causes retaliation. The irony, as Reuters also reports, is that Syria's early warning radar system did not detect any missiles landing on Syrian territory, according to a Syrian security source quoted by Lebanon's al-Manar television on Tuesday.
In other words, if this was indeed an attempt at provocation, then Israel was testing to see what Russia's response would be, not so much Syria's.
Finally, NATO, as RIA also reports, is now investigating this launch:
NATO has no information about the launch of "ballistic targets" in the Mediterranean and is looking into those reports, an official from the alliance told RIA Novosti Tuesday.Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier on Tuesday its early warning system had detected the launch of two "ballistic targets" in the Mediterranean.The Pentagon, the UK and French Defense Ministries and the Israel Army command have all told RIA Novosti they have no information about such launches.“The Defense Ministry cannot confirm these media reports. This is all I can say,” a French Defense Ministry spokesman said.The launch was detected at 10:16 Moscow time (06:16 GMT) by a radar in the southern Russian city of Armavir, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. The targets’ trajectories ran from the central to the eastern Mediterranean, the spokesman said.
And speaking of Russia's official response, stay tuned.
Russia’s early warning radars detected the launch of two ballistic rockets in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Russia’s Defense Ministry stated. Israel later claimed responsibility for firing the target test rockets.
The launch took place at 06:16 GMT Tuesday, according to Russia's Ministry of Defense.
The trajectory of the missiles is reported to have been from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea towards the eastern landmass. Both rockets have allegedly fallen into the sea, RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Russia’s President Putin has already been informed about the incident by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
The Syrian embassy in Moscow currently has no information on the incident.
There were no rocket attack signals or blasts in Damascus, the Russian embassy in Syria noted.
Syria’s missile warning system has not detected any rockets landing on their territory, a Syrian security source told Lebanese channel al-Manar TV.
Initially, the Israeli military apparently had no data on the launch either. However, later Israel claimed a joint missile launch with the US in the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli authorities pointed out that they tested an “anchor” target missile used to check how well the anti-missile system known as "Arrow-2" functions.
US Navy Forces haven’t fired any missiles from vessels deployed in the Mediterranean, according to a spokesman.
Hezbollah has reportedly redeployed its forces throughout the region ahead of a possible US strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad — a longtime ally of the Lebanon- based Shiite terror group.
Members of Hezbollah have “disappeared” from villages across Lebanon, AFP reported Tuesday, citing Lebanese media and witnesses. The report noted that Hezbollah fighters in strongholds along the coast, in the Bekaa valley, near the Syrian border and in southern Beirut had left town, with many turning off their cellphones to avoid being tracked.
Witnesses in the area around Tyre told AFP there appeared to be a general mobilization of Hezbollah members in the area. On Monday the Arabic daily Al-Akhbar, a paper considered close to both Assad’s regime and Hezbollah, said the group “called on all its officers and members to man their positions.”
Hezbollah has threatened to hit Israel in response to a possible US military action against Syria currently being debated by lawmakers in Washington. On Monday, Lebanese media reported that Hezbollah planned to launch rockets at Israel from the Syrian city of Homs, to avoid drawing Lebanon into the conflict.
“Nobody knows what will happen” if the US or other countries attack Syria,” Assad said in an interview with the French paper Le Figaro.“Everyone will lose control of the situation when the powder keg explodes. Chaos and extremism will spread… There is a risk of regional war.”
Assad told the paper that Western claims of intelligence information ostensibly proving the regime’s use of chemical weapons, in an attack near Damascus August 21 that killed hundreds, were spurious.