'Israel spies on Russian fleet off Syrian coast'

Syrian gov't claims camouflaged spy rocks were found on Mediterranean island to monitor Russian naval maneuvering.

Alleged Israeli fake rock for spying 370 (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
Alleged Israeli fake rock for spying 370
(photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
Israeli espionage devices planted in artificial rocks were found on an uninhabited island off the coast of Syria, Lebanese pro-Syrian, Al Manar TV reported on Sunday.
Camera equipment placed inside the camouflaged devices were activated in order to track the movements of the Russian navy and transmit real-time images via satellite back to Israel, according to the report.
Three large devices embedded with electronic transmission gear were allegedly found on the Mediterranean island opposite of the Syrian port of Tartous.
The port is home to a Russian naval facility, Russia's only military base outside the former Soviet Union and a symbol of decades-old ties between Moscow and the Assad ruling dynasty. Russia continues to supply Assad with military equipment as he battles the uprising.
Iranian naval ships have also docked in the Tartous port after traveling through the Suez Canal. The ships were said to be providing training for Syrian naval forces.
The Al Manar report suggests that Israeli commandos from the "Flotilla 13", in Hebrew Shayetet 13, an elite naval unit conducted an earlier operation to plant the surveillance system inconspicuously on the island.
The commandos had previously infiltrated the Syrian territory via German-manufactured Dolphin class submarines, armed with nuclear cruise missile capabilities, to extract sample stones to be used for replication. The frogmen also evaluated the terrain for the most effective location for a monitoring station, Al Manar reported.
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Images of artificial rocks embedded with electronic devices including batteries and cables along with a satellite were shown on Syria's state-run television, the report states.
The equipment shown on Syrian television - and the artificial rocks used to disguise it - closely resembled items seized in Lebanon in recent years that Lebanese authorities said were also used by Israel to monitor movements inside Lebanon.
Earlier in the month, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor would not comment on the report of the spy equipment, saying: "We will not be dragged into the Syrian civil war. Not on the verbal or propaganda battlefield, nor on the real one."
Reuters contributed to this report.