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Who Bombed Syria? Did Syria Get Bombed?

I am officially perplexed over the air strike on a purported nuclear facility in Syria.

The first news I saw on this was in the middle of an article about Human Rights Watch criticizing Israel's disregard for civilians during the attacks on Lebanon. Totally out of context, the article states:

In an unrelated development, Syrian officials said antiaircraft batteries fired on Israeli military planes that entered Syrian airspace near the border with Turkey overnight Wednesday. There were conflicting reports about whether the Israeli aircraft fired at targets inside Syria or dropped ammunition. There were no reports of damage or injury.

Syrian officials said the country's leaders were "seriously considering" an appropriate response. The Israeli military would neither confirm nor deny the incident.

That out of context statement on September 7, 2007 was followed by relative silence on the issue until September 21st. Then we learn that the "US shared intelligence with Israel" (or they shared intelligence with each other) before the strike on Syria:

Before it bombed Syria, Israel provided the US with intelligence suggesting that North Korea was secretly supplying Damascus with nuclear technology, The Washington Post newspaper claimed yesterday.

The article goes on to say that both Bush and Israel are refusing to comment on the bombing. However, "Benjamin Netanyahu, ..., told Israeli television that he knew of the operation." However, Syria only commented that it had forced Israeli fighter planes to "flee."

Mark Tran of the Guardian framed the issue thusly:

Israel's decision to launch an air strike against a suspected nuclear site in Syria allegedly set up with the help of North Korea came after Israel shared intelligence with the US, it was reported today.

The attack on September 6 has been shrouded in mystery, although the Israeli opposition leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, yesterday confirmed in a TV interview that such an attack did take place. His admission came despite a news blackout over the incident.

Tran's article goes on to state that the mission was so secret that the planes providing air support for the bombers did not know where they were going. He also says there are speculations that the bombing was a test run for an attack on Iran's facilities.

In the September 21-22 period, everyone seems clear that Israel bombed a site within Syria (Wa. Post, 9/21/07, Independent, 9/21).

The New York Times spin on the issue clearly assumes that Israel struck Syria, but there remains questions over what exactly was struck:

American officials are now sorting through what they say are Israel's private claims that what their jets struck was tied to nuclear weapons development, not merely to missile production. So far, American officials have been extremely cautious about endorsing the Israeli conclusion.

Regardless, to that point the understanding was that Israel bombed (or attempted to bomb) Syria, and they did it with intelligence coordination with the United States.

Then on October 11, 2007 there is a startling piece of news - Syria Tells Journalists Israeli Raid Did Not Occur."

Huh? It never happened?

Not so fast! Israel, apparently stung by the Syrian denial says "did so."

Israel's air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.

The description of the target addresses one of the central mysteries surrounding the Sept. 6 attack, and suggests that Israel carried out the raid to demonstrate its determination to snuff out even a nascent nuclear project in a neighboring state. The Bush administration was divided at the time about the wisdom of Israel's strike, American officials said, and some senior policy makers still regard the attack as premature.

While Syria denied the attack ever happened (they chased the planes away supposedly), it was reported on October 19th that they were take apart the bombed facility.

On October 25th, we get the report that the US has aerial photos that prove there was a nuclear reactor in Syria. On October 26, the BBC shows photo evidence that Israel "removed" the facility in the top secret bombing mission.

On October 28th, Israel Apologizes to Turkey Over Syria Air Strike - kind of:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has apologized to Turkey after it protested at Israel's apparent use of its airspace for a bombing run in neighboring Syria last month, a senior Israeli official said on Sunday.

"If indeed Israeli planes entered Turkish airspace, then there was no intention of undermining or questioning Turkish sovereignty, which we respect," the official quoted Olmert as telling cabinet ministers during their closed weekly session.

Well, things are obviously fishy here. After all of this reporting one would think that Israel did a bombing run into Syria. Right? Well not so fast.

On November 2, 2007 we get a totally new spin from the Jerusalem Post that the 'USAF Struck Syrian Nuclear Site'.

The September 6 raid over Syria was carried out by the US Air Force, the Al-Jazeera Web site reported Friday. The Web site quoted Israeli and Arab sources as saying that two strategic US jets armed with tactical nuclear weapons carried out an attack on a nuclear site under construction.

The sources were quoted as saying that Israeli F-15 and F-16 jets provided cover for the US planes.

The sources added that each US plane carried one tactical nuclear weapon and that the site was hit by one bomb and was totally destroyed.

So the story went from Israel bombing a Syrian facility (maybe they did and maybe they didn't) with support of U.S. intelligence (maybe we did and maybe we didn't), with photo evidence of the deed (which Syria denies existed), to The U.S. bombed the facility.

Now one might write the last claim off, except that it includes both Arab and Israeli intelligence sources, and is being written up in a respected Israeli paper.

What may be clear (and likely the strike did occur) is that either Israel or the U.S. engaged in a preemptive strike inside Syria, and that they overflew Turkish airspace in this unannounced raid. It also seems very possible that this was a test run of a combined U.S. - Israeli mission for facilities inside Iran. Or as likely, a very direct message to Iran that they could be next.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at November 5, 2007 11:47 PM
Comments
Comment #237665

Rowan,

I’m right with you until you get to

Now one might write the last claim off, except that it includes both Arab and Israeli intelligence sources, and is being written up in a respected Israeli paper.

Now, if you look at what paper reported, all of the information they reported was that Al Jazeera made the claim that the US performed the strike.

Why would Israel need the US to strike Syria? It doesn’t make sense at all…

So, I think we’re a bit away from knowing the whole story here, but I’m not about to accept Al Jazeera as a credible source.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 6, 2007 12:03 AM
Comment #237667

It couldn’t be clearer. Either something or nothing happened, and the responsibility lies with Israel or the United States. Or both. Or neither.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at November 6, 2007 12:27 AM
Comment #237668

LO
You forgot. Something must have happened because the Syrians said nothing happened. You know how they lie.Heck,if nothing had happened they would be demanding reparations.

Posted by: Bills at November 6, 2007 2:25 AM
Comment #237681

Well, whatever did or did not happen we know for sure it was not either done or not done with a tactical nuke. That would be verifiable all over the northern hemisphere within a week. Since what we did or didn’t bomb did or didn’t exist in the first place having real radiation floating all over the place from it would have been an embarrassment for everyone.

OK kids, given what you either know or don’t know, can anyone guess why we haven’t bombed Iran yet?

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 6, 2007 10:32 AM
Comment #237683


For me, the real issue is secrecy. In a nation supposedly governed by the People, the government consistently keeps the People misinformed and ignorant. This is why millions of people have no problem believing that Cheney, PNAC, and the Israelis planned 9/11, the government is in cahoots with aliens in UFO’s, people in our government planned and executed JFK, etc.

Posted by: jlw at November 6, 2007 10:40 AM
Comment #237688

I guess it depends on which Al Jazeera the report came from. Unfortunately, the Jerusalem Post article does not specify.

Posted by: Rowan at November 6, 2007 11:16 AM
Comment #237695

Just click on the following link and judge for yourself whether or not the bombing took place and whether or not it may be a nuclear facility.

Before and after photos here.

Posted by: Jim T at November 6, 2007 12:39 PM
Comment #237700

Anyone can buy 2.5m resolution imagery on the Web from places like DigitalGlobe, so both Syria and Iran know that what they build above ground will be seen by the even better spy satellites.

So why build a building that looks just like a N. Korean reactor if you are not trying to attract a JDAM or Paveway? And then when it gets hit, rush over to the site and cover it all up so that no one will know it was there? I remember about a year ago the Iranians bulldozed a site and covered it up as well (knowing that everyone was watching).

I agree there’s more to this story, but I wonder what the “more” is….

Posted by: George in SC at November 6, 2007 1:20 PM
Comment #237738

From the photos, there’s no way to tell if that was once a nuclear reactor or anything else.

Posted by: Liam at November 6, 2007 8:58 PM
Comment #237755

This also remember me the fake Iraqi tanks during Gulf War. Many bombs were dropped over them, with a cost/target importance ratio clearly in favor of Iraq.

Playing tactic with satellite photos is more mainstream now, and its no more limited to states that have launched spy satellites.
Building a very visible large structure while everybody knows that you must build underground any vital secret or vital structures seems like cover smoke, IMHO.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 7, 2007 5:03 AM
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