Syria: Israel Fires Missiles In Mediterranean

Syria: Israel Fires Missiles In Mediterranean

Israel says it has carried out a joint missile test with the United States in the Mediterranean, amid continued tensions in the region over the crisis in Syria.

Israel's defence ministry said it had tested a single Sparrow target missile, which it said was "successfully" detected and tracked by its Arrow missile-defence system.

Russia's defence ministry had said two ballistic "objects" were fired towards the eastern Mediterranean from the central part of the sea.

Interfax news agency quoted a ministry spokesman as saying the launch was detected at 10.16 am Moscow time (7.16am UK time) by an early warning radar station at Armavir, near the Black Sea, which is designed to detect missiles from Europe and Iran.

Sky News' Foreign Affairs Editor Tim Marshall said: "This is Israel saying 'we can defend ourselves'. They do these tests frequently but they would have chosen today as a reminder (to Israel's enemies)."

Despite reports that Israel had claimed the launch was a joint test with America, a US Navy spokesman said no missiles had been fired from any of its ships in the Mediterranean.

The Russian Embassy in Syria said there were no signs of a missile attack or explosions in the capital, Damascus. 

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had informed President Vladimir Putin of the launch, according to Interfax.

Russia opposes any outside military intervention in the Syrian civil war and a ministry official had earlier criticised the United States for deploying warships in the Mediterranean close to Syria.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had previously said she was not aware of any missile launch in the eastern Mediterranean.

Washington is currently assessing whether to order sea-launched strikes against Syria, with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden attempting to convince Congress of the need to intervene.

Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, who are both campaigning for action, met the President to discuss operations.

Mr Graham said: "It is all in the details, but I left the meeting feeling better than I felt before about what happens the day after and that the purpose of the attack is going to be a little more robust than I thought."

And Mr McCain said in an interview that Mr Obama did not reveal what weapons might be provided to the opposition in Syria or discuss in what targets might be attacked.

"There was no concrete agreement, 'OK, we got a deal,’" Mr McCain said.

"Like a lot of things, the devil is in the details."

And speaking to CBS on Syria, Mr McCain said: "I need to see ... (a) resolution that does not allow us to take action that reverses the situation on the battlefield so that Assad will sooner or later leave. The only way he will leave is if he loses."

It is being suggested that Mr Obama now favours intervention beyond the "limited" action he had previously advocated, although Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament he did not believe the speculation.

Tim Marshall added: "I cannot conceive of why President Obama would want an open-ended campaign in order to degrade President Assad's forces .. to such an extent that there is a rebel takeover.

"The Americans fear what might come from that. They're not on either side really at the moment."

France previously released satellite imagery it said showed strikes came from government-controlled areas to the east and west of the Syrian capital and targeting rebel-held zones, just before civilians began dying from gas poisoning.

President Bashar al Assad warned Syria would retaliate if France takes part in foreign strikes on his forces.

"If the policies of the French state are hostile to the Syrian people, the state will be their enemy," he said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro. 

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