Syria has put its most advanced missiles on standby with orders to hit Tel Aviv if Israel launches another strike on its territory, The Sunday Times reported overnight Sunday.
According to the British newspaper, reconnaissance satellites have been monitoring preparations by the Syrian army to deploy surface-to-surface Tishreen missiles.
- Assad: Israel supports 'terrorist' rebel groups
- Analysis: Will Israel destroy Russian missiles?
- Op-ed: Moral indifference
An Israeli official told The New York Times that Israel, which has launched three recent attacks on Syria, was considering further strikes and warned President Bashar Assad that his government would face "crippling consequences" if he hit back at Israel.
The Sunday Times said the deployment of the Syrian-made Tishreen missiles, each of which can carry a half-ton payload, marks a significant escalation of tension "in a region in which the United States and Russia appear to be preparing for a Cold War-style stand-off."
Russian S-300 missile (Archive photo: AFP)
Uzi Rubin, Israel's leading missile expert, told the newspaper that the Tishreen missiles are "extremely accurate and can cause serious harm.
"Even if they don't hit Ben-Gurion (Airport) directly, they would halt all commercial flights out of the country," he said.
An Israeli official told The New York Times last week that Israel, which has reportedly launched three attacks on Syria recently and destroyed advanced anti-aircraft and surface-to-surface missiles that were designated for Hezbollah, was considering additional strikes and warned President Assad that his regime would face "crippling consequences" if he hit back at Israel.
In a rare interview on Saturday, Assad told Argentine newspaper Clarin that Israel was supporting the Syrian opposition, which he dubbed terrorists.
"Israel is directly supporting the terrorist groups in two ways, firstly it gives them logistical support and it also tells them what sites to attack and how to attack them. For example, they attacked a radar station that is part of our anti-aircraft defenses, which can detect any plane coming from overseas, especially from Israel," the Syrian president said.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Russia is continuing to arm Assad's regime and has sent a dozen or more warships to patrol waters near its naval base in Syria, a move that American and European officials have called aggressive, saying it was designed to warn the West and Israel not to intervene in the country's civil war.
Also on Friday, the New York Times reported that Russia has transferred to Syria advanced anti-ship cruise missiles, which threaten Israeli Navy vessels and the Jewish states gas fields located up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the coast.
According to the report, Russia has previously provided a version of the missiles, called Yakhonts, to Syria. But those delivered recently are outfitted with an advanced radar that makes them more effective.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow's weapons sales would "not in any way alter the balance of forces in this region or give any advantage in the fight against the opposition."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop