Ehud Barak 298.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Soldiers from an elite Israeli unit seized North Korean nuclear material from a secret Syrian military installation before it was bombed by IAF jets, a report by Britain's Sunday Times wrote Saturday night, quoting "informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem."
According to the sources, the alleged IAF attack was sanctioned by the US on September 6, after the Americans were given proof that the material was indeed nuclear-related.
The sources confirmed that the materials were tested after they were taken from Syria and were found to be of North Korean origin, which raised concerns that Syria may have been trying to come into the possession of nuclear arms.
The commandos, who, according to the report, belonged to the legendary General Staff's Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal), may have been disguised in Syrian army uniforms. It was also stated that Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who used to head the unit, personally oversaw the operation.
Israeli sources admitted that special forces had been accruing intelligence in Syria for several months, the report said, adding that evidence of North Korean activity at the installation was presented to President George Bush during the summer.
Former Syrian information minister, Ma'ahdi Dahallah, rejected the report and called on Israel to present the evidence.
This type of report, Dahallah told Radio Sawa, was merely a form of psychological warfare.
According to the Times, North Korea and China believed that North Koreans were among the dead in the subsequent alleged IAF air strike.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that Israel and the United States had collaborated on intelligence ahead of the alleged IAF raid.
According to the Post report, Israel informed the US over the summer that North Korean personnel were in Syria in order to assist the country's nuclear weapons program. The intelligence in question reportedly included satellite imagery.
Meanwhile, Newsweek quoted Binyamin Netanyahu adviser Uzi Arad in reference to the Syria operation. "I do know what happened, and when it comes out it will stun everyone," he said.