Archive for December 9, 2019

Russian Su-35 jets scrambled to stop Israel over Syria – reports

December 9, 2019

Source: Russian Su-35 jets scrambled to stop Israel over Syria – reports – Jerusalem Post

The reports claim that “Israeli fighters had to flee from the Russian Su-35” and at the same time that “Iran delivered unknown air defense systems to Syria.”

A Sukhoi SU-35 fighter aircraft performs during the "Aviadarts" military aviation competition at the Dubrovichi range near Ryazan, Russia, August 2, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV)
A Sukhoi SU-35 fighter aircraft performs during the “Aviadarts” military aviation competition at the Dubrovichi range near Ryazan, Russia, August 2, 2015.
Iranian and Russian media reported that Russian Su-35s were scrambled from Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria to intercept an alleged Israeli attack near T-4 earlier this month. The report, first put online in a blog at Avia and then picked up by the website Almasdar News and then Tasnim News in Iran claimed that the Su-35s sought to intercept Israeli planes over Syria.

The reports claim that “Israeli fighters had to flee  from the Russian Su-35” and at the same time that “Iran delivered unknown air defense systems to Syria.” The incident occurred over T-4 or Tiyas base east of Homs in Syria. The base is a well-known transit point for Iranian weapons and has Russian personnel at it. Israel has been accused of striking the area in the past. In May 2018 Ynet said that Israel had carried out an airstrike to  destroy an Iranian 3rd Khordad Air Defense system at T-4. Syria claimed more airstrikes hit the area in June and July of this year and September last year.

The reports at the Avia website follow other reports at the same site that often write sensational accounts about alleged Israeli actions in Syria. For instance the same site reported on December 8 that “Israel is preparing new strikes on Syria.” Al-Masdar News reported that the Iranian Bavar-373 air defense was deployed to the area. Both reports appeared to rely on a Twitter account named @Syrian_MC for their information. That account indicated that  Russia had scrambled its jets and that the “incident” ended on December 6.

The National Interest reported that Su-35s had been scrambled in August and “forced Israeli aircraft out of Syrian airspace,” and the website DefenseWorld made a similar claim  in September. Other defense websites have argued the SU-35 is a capable fighter, deployed to Syria in small numbers after it became operational in 2014. Russia’s TASS said in 2018 the fighter is “battle tested in Syrian skies.” It is a 4th Generation “plus” fighter that is super maneuverable and can fly up to 2,500 kilometers an hour. That’s a bit faster than an F-16.

Iran’s Tasnim media appeared to celebrate the claim that Russia had “pursued” Israeli aircraft and “forced” them to leave. The story emerged at the same  time as reports  that satellite images had shown a  cargo plane land at T-4  and unload munitions that could be used in a “revenge attack” by Iran against Israel, according to Israel HaYom. Those images were from November 21, a  day after the airstrikes Israel says it carried out against Iranian IRGC targets in Syria. “A large cargo trailer on the runway of the Iran operated T-4 base located in Homs district,” was shown. “Israel reportedly refrained from targeting the T-4 base due to its division into three areas controlled by Russian, Iranian and Syrian army, raising challenges that would require precise coordination with Moscow on top of the base’s more formidable security arsenal that include the S-300 anti-aircraft system.” Russia provided S-300s to Syria in October 2018 after a Syrian S-200 shot down a Russian plane during an Israeli airstrike in Latakia. The incident caused a momentary crises with Russia at the time.

Syrian air defense  is known for shooting its S-200s wildly, one time shooting a missile that hit Cyprus by mistake in July 2019, and in 2017 firing a missile that had to be downed by an Arrow air defense system over Jordan, according to the BBC.

Russia released information on November 21 accusing Israel of four days of attacks in Syria in November, including the November 20 raids and an airstrike at Albukamal and two near Damascus on November 12 and November 19. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov today to discuss various issues, including Syria. Pompeo met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Portugal last week and Oman’s foreign minister on November 26. When Netanyahu met Pompeo on December 5 he said that Israel was actively countering Iranian aggression. Pompeo expressed support for Israel’s countering of Iran in August and October. On December 5 the New York Times reported Iran is transferring short range ballistic missiles to Iraq that threaten Israel. Airstrikes Saturday near Albukamal killed five pro-Iranian fighters.


Tehran accuses Israel of testing ‘a nuke-missile, aimed at Iran’ 

December 9, 2019

Source: Tehran accuses Israel of testing ‘a nuke-missile, aimed at Iran’ | The Times of Israel

Israel’s Defense Ministry had earlier confirmed rocket propulsion test, gave no details; accusation comes days after Iran slammed for working on nuclear-capable missiles

Trails left behind by the launch of a rocket from a base in central Israel as part of a test on December 6, 2019. (Courtesy)

Trails left behind by the launch of a rocket from a base in central Israel as part of a test on December 6, 2019. (Courtesy)

Tehran on Friday accused Israel of testing a nuclear-capable missile “aimed at Iran,” after the Defense Ministry carried out a launch of what it described as a “test of a rocket propulsion system.”

“Israel today tested a nuke-missile, aimed at Iran,” tweeted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Zarif was likely speaking figuratively as Israel usually test fires missiles to the West over the Mediterranean and not towards Iran in the East.

“E3 & US never complain about the only nuclear arsenal in West Asia — armed with missiles actually DESIGNED to be capable of carrying nukes — but has fits of apoplexy over our conventional & defensive ones,” he said.

Javad Zarif


E3 & US never complain about the only nuclear arsenal in West Asia—armed with missiles actually DESIGNED to be capable of carrying nukes—but has fits of apoplexy over our conventional & defensive ones. 

i24NEWS – Israel: Rocket trails over Tel Aviv as IDF conducts unannounced test

The test disrupted flight patterns at Ben Gurion airport, requiring take-off and landings’ to shift north

His comments come a day after France, Germany and the United Kingdom said “Iran’s developments of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles” go against a UN Security Council resolution calling on Tehran not to undertake any activity related to such missiles.

The Israeli Defense Ministry gave few details on the missile test conducted Friday morning.

“The defense establishment conducted a launch test a few minutes ago of a rocket propulsion system from a base in the center of the country,” the ministry said.

“The test was scheduled in advance and was carried out as planned.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd-L) speaks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono (not pictured) during their meeting at a hotel in Yokohama, Japan, on August 27, 2019. (Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool/AFP)

The Defense Ministry refused to comment on the nature of the rocket being tested, leading to speculation that it was a ballistic missile.

Residents of the area reported seeing a white trail left behind by the rocket.

Israel does not publicly acknowledge having ballistic missiles in its arsenals, though according to foreign reports, the Jewish state possesses a nuclear-capable variety known as the Jericho that has a multi-stage engine, a 5,000-kilometer range and is capable of carrying a 1,000-kilogram warhead.

These types of tests are conducted as part of the development of several different types of projectiles, from offensive ballistic missiles to defensive interceptors and satellite launchers. Though in cases of interceptors and satellite launchers, the Defense Ministry generally reveals additional details about the nature of the test.

While foreign sources have estimated Israel has an arsenal of dozens to hundreds of nuclear weapons, the Jewish state has neither publicly confirmed nor denied such reports in keeping with its policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity.

The rocket test required incoming flights en route to Ben Gurion Airport to be temporarily diverted.

The three European nations urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a letter circulated Wednesday to inform the council in his next report that Iran’s ballistic missile activity is “inconsistent” with the call in a council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

The letter cites footage released on social media April 22, 2019, of a previously unseen flight test of a new Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile variant “equipped with a maneuverable re-entry vehicle.” It says: “The Shahab-3 booster used in the test is a Missile Technology Control Regime category-1 system and as such is technically capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.”

A Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is on display next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at an exhibition by Iran’s army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard celebrating ‘Sacred Defense Week’ marking the 39th anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at Baharestan Square in downtown Tehran, Iran, September 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The Europeans noted that a 2015 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program concluded “that extensive evidence indicated detailed Iranian research in 2002-2003 on arming the Shahab-3 with a nuclear warhead.”

Officials in the Trump administration also have said Iran is working to obtain nuclear-capable missiles, something the Iranians deny.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement in May 2018. But it is still supported by the five other parties — France, Britain, Russia and China, which are all veto-wielding Security Council members, and Germany, which is currently serving a two-year term on the council.

The letter says “France, Germany and the United Kingdom assert once again our firm conclusion that Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and related technologies is inconsistent” with the missile provision in the council resolution.

That provision urges Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” But it does not require Tehran to halt such activity, and the Iranian government insists all its missile activities are legal and not nuclear-related.

The Security Council has scheduled a Dec. 19 meeting to discuss implementation of the 2015 resolution on the Iran nuclear deal.

During last year’s meeting, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the council to again ban Iranian ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and to maintain an arms embargo that is scheduled to be lifted in 2020 under the nuclear deal.

AP contributed to this report


Systematic air strikes are dismantling the Al Qods compound at Abu Kamal – DEBKAfile

December 9, 2019

Source: Systematic air strikes are dismantling the Al Qods compound at Abu Kamal – DEBKAfile

The air strike of Saturday night, Dec. 7, was the fourth this week in a campaign for breaking up the Iranian Al Qods strategic hub which houses Iraqi Shiite militias outside Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border. The strikes aim not only to stem the flow of arms convoys from Iraq, but to level its buildings in order to put the facility permanently out of commission.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report the campaign’s intensity is being gradually notched up. The latest bombardment was therefore the heaviest. The damage caused was excessive and the casualty count ran into dozens, according to Western military and intelligence estimates – mostly Iraqi Shiite militiamen but also Iranian Al Qods officers.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett had this raid in mind when on Sunday, he said, “We must shift from prevention to the offensive, as the only way to drive Iranian aggression out of Syria.” In typical hyperbole, he declared: “We say to them (the Iranians) that Syria will be their Vietnam. You will bleed until your forces quit Syria!”

Eastern Syria is turning into an arena for combined US and Israeli aerial operations, in the face of which Iran and the Iraqi militias have so far held silent. DEBKAfile postulates three reasons for their non-response:

  1. They have no air force units available in the arena for defense.
  2. Iran’s supreme commander in the region, Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, is deeply mired in an all-out effort to salvage Tehran’s grip on Iraq’s Shiite community against swelling anti-Iran resistance in the south and Baghdad. Iraq comes first in Tehran’s order of priorities ahead of Abu Kamal.
  3. Soleimani is waiting for an opportune moment for hitting back.