'Syria was preparing for Israeli attack'

Report: Russia, China asked to appeal to US to stop threat; 'Washington Post' says nuclear site identified.

October 24, 2007 09:58
2 minute read.
'Syria was preparing for Israeli attack'

Syria Turkey 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

Syria was preparing for a large-scale Israeli attack some two weeks ago, the Al-Khaleej newspaper, published in the United Arab Emirates, reported Wednesday. Al-Khaleej quoted "senior sources" in Damascus as saying that Syria had received intelligence that Israel was seriously considering launching an offensive during the Id al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan. Therefore, the article said, Syria began taking "defensive steps." The Syrian sources, who were unnamed, told Al-Khaleej that Russia and China, when apprised of Syria's concerns, sent "stern warnings" to both Jerusalem and Washington that an Israeli attack would destroy the balance of the Middle East. According to the report, China and Russia asked the United States to intervene and "rein in" what Syria perceived as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's threats of war. "Despite Israel's calming messages, sent through mediators, there is still a possibility of a military confrontation," the sources told the UAE paper. The sources added that Syrian President Bashar Assad had raised the issue during his visit with Turkey's leaders last week, and said that Turkey's deputy military chief had given Assad his word that Turkey would not allow Israel to use its air space to attack Syria. Meanwhile, US experts said they have identified the Euphrates River nuclear site in Syria that was allegedly bombed by IAF planes last month, as well as satellite imagery of the facility showing buildings under construction, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. According to the report, the facility was similar in design to a North Korean nuclear reactor capable of producing nuclear material for one bomb a year. Photographs of the area taken before the September 6 raid show an isolated compound which included a boxy structure similar to the type of building used to house a gas-graphite reactor. They also show what could have been a pumping station used to supply cooling water for the reactor, expert David Albright of the US Institute for Science and International Security was quoted as saying by The Washington Post. The newspaper also reported that International and American experts familiar with the site, who were shown the photos on Tuesday, said there was a strong possibility that they show the remote compound which was allegedly attacked by Israel. Israeli officials and the White House declined to comment. The facility depicted was located approximately 10 kilometers north of At Tibnah in the Dayr az Zawr region, according to an ISIS report to be released Wednesday. Albright, a former UN weapons inspector, said the size of the structures suggested that Syria might have been building a gas-graphite reactor of about 20 to 25 megawatts of heat, which is similar to the reactor North Korea built at Yongbyon.

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