Russia slams Israeli attack on Syria. US forces in Jordan on alert
The Syrian announcement of an Israeli air strike on a military site near Damascus Wednesday, Jan. 30, drew strong condemnation from Moscow the next day: “Such action if confirmed would amount to unacceptable military interference in the war-ravaged country,” said the statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry Thursday. “If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violate the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.”
Israel has made no comment on the Damascus statement which described in detail an Israeli air strike against a “military research institute” near the capital. Witnesses say it was a plant for manufacturing “unconventional weapons.” The facility was destroyed and two staff members killed.
Lebanese sources later reported a Russian Mig-31 fighter had crossed over Sinai Wednesday in the direction of Israel. It veered west over the Mediterranean after encountering an Israeli warning not to intrude into its air space and continued flying over Lebanon.
DEBKAfile’s military sources say that the only external military force in the eastern Mediterranean region is a fleet of 18 Russian warships, which includes landing-craft – among the largest in the Russian Navy – with 2,000 marines aboard.
According to various Middle East sources, the Syrian report of an Israeli air strike has touched off high military alerts across the region. Syria has put its Golan forces on the Israel border on combat readiness and the Lebanese and Jordanian armies are on alert. So too are the Russian fleet opposite Syria and the Lebanese army.
Our military sources report that Turkish units on the Syrian border are on high preparedness although Ankara played down the reports of the Israeli air strike in Syria, uncomfortable over the fact that the Israeli Air Force was the first external power to intervene directly in the Syrian conflict.
So too are the US air force units stationed at the Turkish Incerlik air base, the US special forces deployed at the Jordanian Mafraq air facility and the American, German and Dutch Patriot missile interceptors deployed in Turkey opposite Syria. Israel has been on high alert since last week.
The prevailing estimate in military and intelligence circles in Washington and NATO capitals is that the Israeli air attack on the Syrian military site near Damascus was but the opening shot for the coming round of military blows they expect to be exchanged in the near future between Israel, Syria and Hizballah, with Iran possibly waiting in the wings for a chance to pitch in.