Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Al-Jazeera's Surprising Claims about Airstrike on Syria

I posted some news reports here and here about a 9-6-07 bombing raid by Israel on what is alleged to have been a Syrian nuclear facility.

The Jerusalem Post (11-2-07) is now quoting an article in Al-Jazeera that claims:

The September 6 raid over Syria was carried out by the US Air Force, the Al-Jazeera Web site reported Friday. The Web site quoted Israeli and Arab sources as saying that two US jets armed with tactical nuclear weapons carried out an attack on a suspected nuclear site under construction.

The sources were quoted as saying that Israeli F-15 and F-16 jets provided cover for the US planes.

The sources added that each US plane carried one tactical nuclear weapon and that the site was hit by one bomb and was totally destroyed. [full text]

Israel Insider (11-2-07) is also reporting the same story and includes a link to the Al Jazeera story.

Israel Insider observes:

The September 6 raid over Syria was in fact carried out by the US Air Force, Al-Jazeera's Web site reported in Arabic Friday, quoting unnamed Israeli and Arab sources as saying that two strategic US jets armed with tactical nuclear weapons executed the attack on a nuclear site under construction.

The sources were quoted as saying that Israeli F-15 and F-16 jets only provided cover for the US fighter-bombers, which carried one tactical nuclear weapon apiece. The site was hit by one bomb and totally destroyed. The use of nukes might account for the fact that the suspected plant was effectively erased from the earth, with few if any traces remaining, according to satellite photos...

It is now generally believed that the target of the September 6 raid was a partly constructed nuclear reactor in Dayr-a-Sawr in notheastern Syria. On October 17, Syria denied that one of its representatives to the United Nations told a panel that an Israeli air strike hit a Syrian nuclear facility and added that "such facilities do not exist in Syria."

If the facilities were wiped out by Israelis or Americans, that statement would be correct, in the present tense. However, a A UN document released by the press office paraphrased an unnamed Syrian representative as saying that a nuclear facility was indeed hit by the raid. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA later claimed that media reports, apparently based on a UN press release, misquoted the Syrian diplomat.

If the Al-Jazeera report is true, it would be the first use of nuclear weapons in the world for a non-test purpose since the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. [full text]

America, Israel, and the Arab countries have not said much officially about this air strike. Only Syria and North Korea have complained.

Perhaps this story is just an attempt to explain why there might be radiation at the bombed site. Still, it is interesting that Israeli media are reporting this story.

The Washington Post (11-5-07) comments that pressures are growing for some official account of the airstrike. The Post does not mention Al-Jazeera's allegation about the use of a tactical nuclear weapon.

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