JERUSALEM – Syria is in the midst of “intensely” arming itself, placing into position rockets and missiles capable of striking the entire Jewish state, according to an assessment presented to the Knesset today by multiple Israeli security agencies.
The announcement follows a WND exclusive report last month quoting security officials stating Syria, aided by Russia and Iran, has been furiously acquiring rockets and missiles, including projectiles capable of hitting any point in Israel. The officials listed anti-tank, anti-aircraft and ballistic missiles as some of the arms procured by Syria.
Yesterday, Israel’s Mossad and Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence chiefs presented an annual security report to the Knesset warning of Syria’s armament program.
The chiefs also warned of a possible flare-up at Israel’s northern border with the Hezbollah terror group and said in their assessment Iran could cross the technological threshold enabling it to assemble a nuclear bomb by the end of next year.
The assessment came after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced last week negotiations between the Jewish state and Syria should be seriously considered it if would bring an end to Syrian-sponsored terrorism and Damascus’ “involvement in the axis of evil.”
The negotiations would aim for some sort of Israeli evacuation from the Golan Heights strategic, mountainous territory looking down on Israeli and Syrian population centers twice used by Damascus to launch ground invasions into the Jewish state.
Syria openly provides refuge to Palestinian terror leaders, including the chiefs of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and has been accused of shipping weapons to Hezbollah. Damascus is also accused of supporting the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq.
‘Furious frenzy’ to get Russian missiles
Olmert’s announcement of Israel’s willingness to negotiate followed a WND report in which Israeli and Jordanian security officials outlined Syria’s recent armament.
A Jordanian security official said one of the main reasons Damascus did not retaliate after Israel carried out its Sept. 6 air strike inside Syria – which allegedly targeted a nascent nuclear facility – was because Syria’s rocket infrastructure was not yet complete.
The official said that after the Israeli air strike, Syria picked up the pace of acquiring rockets and missiles, largely from Russia with Iranian backing, with the goal of completing its missile and rocket arsenal by the end of the year. The Jordanian official said Syria is aiming to possess the capacity to fire more than 100 rockets into Israel per hour for a sustained period of time.
“The Syrians have three main goals: to maximize their anti-tank, anti-aircraft and ballistic missile and rocket capabilities,” explained the Jordanian official.
According to Israeli and Jordanian officials, Syria recently quietly struck a deal with Russia that allows Moscow to station submarines and war boats off Syrian ports. In exchange, Russia is supplying Syria with weaponry at lower costs, with some of the missiles and rockets being financed by Iran.
“The Iranians opened an extended credit line with Russia for Syria with the purpose of arming Syria,” said one Jordanian security official.
“Russia’s involvement and strategic positioning is almost like a return to its Cold War stance,” the official said.
Both the Israeli and Jordanian officials told WND large quantities of Syrian rockets and missiles are being stockpiled at the major Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartus.
Syria’s new acquisitions include Russia’s S-300 surface-to-air missile defense shield, which is similar to the U.S.-funded, Israeli-engineered Arrow anti-missile system currently deployed in Israel. The S-300 system is being run not by Syria but by Russian naval technicians who work from Syria’s ports, security officials said.
New ballistic missiles and rockets include Alexander rockets and a massive quantity of various Scud surface-to-surface missiles, including Scud B and Scud D missiles.
Israeli security officials noted Syria recently test-fired two Scud D surface-to-surface missiles, which have a range of about 250 miles, covering most Israeli territory. The officials said the Syrian missile test was coordinated with Iran and is believed to have been successful. It is not known what type of warhead the missiles had.
In addition to longer-range Scuds, Syria is in possession of shorter-range missiles such as 220 millimeter and 305 millimeter rockets, some of which have been passed on to the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah.
Israel has information Syria recently acquired and deployed Chinese-made C-802 missiles, which were successfully used against the Israeli navy during Israel’s war against Hezbollah in 2006. The missiles were passed to Syria by Iran, Israeli security officials told WND.
Russia recently sold to Syria advanced anti-tank missiles similar to the projectiles that devastated Israeli tanks during the last Lebanon war, causing the highest number of Israeli troop casualties during the 34 days of military confrontations. Syria and Russia are negotiating the sale of advanced anti-aircraft missiles.
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