With Eye On Syria, Israel Tests Missiles With US - New York News

With Eye On Syria, Israel Tests Missiles With US

Posted: Updated:
Jerusalem, Israel -

Israel and the U.S. conducted a joint missile test over the Mediterranean on Tuesday, in a display of military prowess as the Obama administration seeks congressional support for strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Any U.S. strikes, in retaliation for alleged chemical weapons use by the Assad regime, are not expected before next week when Congress returns from summer recess.

The Israeli Defense Ministry said the test of its Arrow 3 missile-defense system was performed together with the U.S. Defense Department.

The system successfully detected and tracked a medium-range decoy missile that was not carrying a warhead, the ministry said, but did not intercept it.

"A successful test was held to check our systems," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said. "We will continue to develop and research and equip the Israeli military with the best systems in the world."

In Washington, there was no immediate White House comment.

Experts and defense officials said the test had been scheduled weeks ago and was not directly connected to the current tensions in the region.

Uzi Rubin, former head of the Arrow system, said the test was "completely technical. Nothing connected to Syria." He said the "only message" it would send was that Israel has "good missile defense systems."

Nonetheless, it served as a reminder to Syria and its patron, Iran, that Israel is pressing forward with development of a "multilayered" missile-defense system. Both Syria and Iran, and their Lebanese ally Hezbollah, possess vast arsenals of rockets and missiles.

The Arrow 3, expected to be operational around 2016, would be the first such "multilayer" missile-defense system, designed to intercept long-range missiles such the Iranian Shahab before they re-enter the atmosphere.

Last year, Israel also successfully tested a system designed to intercept missiles with ranges of up to 300 kilometers (180 miles) which is expected to be operational by early 2015.

Another system for short-range rockets successfully shot down hundreds fired from the Gaza Strip during eight days of fighting in November, and more recently intercepted a rocket fired from Lebanon.

Meanwhile in Syria, regime troops recaptured the town of Ariha, a busy commercial center in the restive northern province of Idlib following days of heavy bombardment, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group obtains information from a network of anti-regime activists.

Ariha has changed hands several times in the past two years. Rebels had succeeded in wrestling it from government control late last month.

Since the outbreak of the Syria conflict in March 2011, the two sides have fought to a stalemate, though the Assad regime has retaken the offensive in recent months. Rebel fighters control large rural stretches in northern and eastern Syria, while Assad is holding on to most of the main urban areas.

Also Tuesday, rebels detonated a bomb along a gas pipeline near the northeastern town of Deir el-Zour, the state-run Syrian news agency SANA reported.

The Observatory confirmed that a fire had broken out along the pipeline, but said it had no details on the reporting bombing.

The eastern province of Deir el-Zour, along Syria's border with Iraq, is one of the two main centers of the country's oil production. The rebels have been seizing oil fields there since late 2012. It is not clear how much of the fields they control. Activists and state media say most of Syria's fields are no longer under direct government control.

The Syrian conflict, which began as a popular uprising against Assad in March 2011, later degenerated into a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.

The U.N. refugee agency announced Tuesday that the number of Syrians who have fled the country has surpassed the 2 million mark.

Along with more than four million people displaced inside Syria, this means more than six million Syrians have been uprooted, out of an estimated population of 23 million.

Antonio Guterres, the head of the Office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said Syria is hemorrhaging an average of almost 5,000 citizens a day across its borders, many of them with little more than the clothes they are wearing. Nearly 1.8 million refugees have fled in the past 12 months alone, he said.

The agency's special envoy, actress Angelina Jolie, said "some neighboring countries could be brought to the point of collapse" if the situation keeps deteriorating at its current pace. Most Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Despite the grim toll, Assad has not shown any signs of backing down.

Assad and some in his inner circle are from Syria's minority Alawites, or followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam, who believe they would not have a place in Syria if the rebels win. Most of those trying to topple Assad are Sunni Muslims, with Islamic militants, including those linked to the al-Qaida terror network, increasingly dominant among the rebels.

The missile test came at a time of heightened tensions as Washington weighs sea-launched strikes against Syria. Israel has been increasingly concerned that it could be drawn into Syria's brutal civil war.

Since the weekend, the Obama administration has been lobbying for congressional support for military action against the Assad regime.

The administration says it has evidence that Assad's forces launched attacks with chemical weapons on rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus on Aug. 21. The U.S. has alleged that the nerve agent sarin was used and that at least 1,429 people were killed, including more than 400 children.

Last week, President Barack Obama appeared poised to authorize military strikes, but unexpectedly stepped back over the weekend to first seek approval from Congress, which returns from summer recess next week.

On Monday, the U.S. administration won backing from French intelligence and reportedly also from Germany's spy agency for its claim that Assad's forces were responsible for the suspected chemical weapons attacks.

The Assad regime has denied using chemical weapons, blaming rebels instead. Neither the U.S. nor Syria and its allies have presented conclusive proof in public.

  • Political NewsMore>>

  • Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption case goes to jury

    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption case goes to jury

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:02:25 GMT
    The corruption case that could send former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife to federal prison was in the hands Tuesday of jurors who must decide whether the couple sold the influence of the office to a wealthy vitamin executive seeking legitimacy for his company's signature product.
    The corruption case that could send former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife to federal prison was in the hands Tuesday of jurors who must decide whether the couple sold the influence of the office to a wealthy vitamin executive seeking legitimacy for his company's signature product.
  • Ex-Va. Gov says he knows in heart he's innocent

    Ex-Va. Gov says he knows in heart he's innocent

    Friday, August 22 2014 6:33 PM EDT2014-08-22 22:33:08 GMT
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he knows in his heart he's innocent of the federal corruption charges he's facing.
    Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he knows in his heart he's innocent of the federal corruption charges he's facing.
  • Rolex passed among jurors in ex-Va. gov trial

    Rolex passed among jurors in ex-Va. gov trial

    Thursday, July 31 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-07-31 23:08:18 GMT
    The requests for lavish gifts were frequent. Jonnie Williams — the star witness in a corruption trial against the former Virginia governor and his wife — was being asked for everything from a joy ride in his Ferrari to stock in the company he led.
    The requests for lavish gifts were frequent. Jonnie Williams — the star witness in a corruption trial against the former Virginia governor and his wife — was being asked for everything from a joy ride in his Ferrari to stock in the company he led.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Times Square, 1 WTC go gold for childhood cancer awareness

    Times Square, 1 WTC go gold for childhood cancer awareness

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-09-03 02:20:23 GMT
    Things are looking up for cute little Cami King. Not only is her cancer in remission, she also just got to meet Mickey, Minnie and Elmo in Times Square. But, if you can believe it, there's something else this 4-year-old is even more excited about: Times Square is going gold. The chairman of the Times Square Advertising Coalition announced the crossroads of the world is going to light up in gold to raise awareness for pediatric cancer research.
    Things are looking up for cute little Cami King. Not only is her cancer in remission, she also just got to meet Mickey, Minnie and Elmo in Times Square. But, if you can believe it, there's something else this 4-year-old is even more excited about: Times Square is going gold. The chairman of the Times Square Advertising Coalition announced the crossroads of the world is going to light up in gold to raise awareness for pediatric cancer research.
  • Lawyer says family of girl with Uzi is devastated

    Lawyer says family of girl with Uzi is devastated

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-09-03 02:00:24 GMT
    An attorney for the parents of a 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed an Arizona shooting range instructor with an Uzi say the family is devastated by the tragedy that occurred on a brief excursion during a...
    An attorney for the parents of a 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed an Arizona shooting range instructor with an Uzi say the family is devastated by the tragedy that occurred on a brief excursion during a vacation.
  • Deadly crash in Lincoln Tunnel

    Deadly crash in Lincoln Tunnel

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:15 PM EDT2014-09-03 00:15:54 GMT

    Officials say a New Jersey man has died from injuries he suffered in a chain-reaction crash inside one of the tubes of the Lincoln Tunnel.  Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police spokesman Joe Pentangelo says the 49-year-old Summit resident was among three people hurt in the accident.


    Officials say a New Jersey man has died from injuries he suffered in a chain-reaction crash inside one of the tubes of the Lincoln Tunnel.  Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police spokesman Joe Pentangelo says the 49-year-old Summit resident was among three people hurt in the accident.



Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices