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Photo: AFP
Spitting in the face of the U.S.? Assad
Photo: AFP
Syria test-fires Scud missiles
Turkey says missile debris landed in country’s southern province; Israeli security official: Test constitutes spit in face of U.S.

Syria test-fired three Scud missiles late last week, reinforcing Israeli worries about Damascus’ ability to deliver a missile-borne chemical attack against Israeli civilian targets, The New York Times quoted Friday Israeli military officials as saying.

 

The officials said one of the missiles broke up over Turkey, and the Turkish military said apparent missile debris landed in two agricultural villages in the southern province of Hatay, causing no injuries or damage.

 

All three missiles were launched from northern Syria, near Minakh, north of Aleppo.

 

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Syria has assured Turkey the incident was ‘Just an accident’ that occurred during routine military training.

 

The test was Syria's first since 2001 of missiles it is developing by means of North Korean technology; the missiles may eventually carry chemical warheads.

 

Why now?

 

Israeli security officials said the missiles Syria launched last week included one older Scud B rocket, with a range of about 300 kilometers

(185 miles), and two Scud D's, with a range of about 700 kilometers (435 miles).

 

The officials said they saw the launchings as a Syrian gesture of defiance to the United States and the United Nations, which pushed Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon after the February assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who favored the pullout.

 

The tests were timed just days before Lebanon embarked upon its first elections since the withdrawal and ahead of the Baath party convention scheduled for Monday.

 

Israel - which captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War - is particularly concerned about Syria's missile program, where Damascus is focusing its efforts against Israel's air superiority.

 

“The test is a spit in the face of the U.S.,” a security official said. “It’s as if (Syrian President) Bashar Assad is telling America, ‘I don’t dance according to your flute’.”

 


First published: 06.03.05, 16:09
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