Early reports were extremely sketchy. Syria reported a violation of their airspace by Israeli military aircraft. Aerial munitions were used but no damage was reported. Syrian officials delayed on reporting the attack to the United Nations. What was the reason for their delay? Then, shortly after Syria reported the attack to the UN, the North Korean regime condemned Israel. Why did North Korea, a country that generally shuns the UN, voice their support for Syria?
Newspapers and blogs speculated the flights were conducted to gain information about Syria’s anti-aircraft systems or gather evidence that Syria was rearming Hezbollah. As Israeli officials maintained their silence, rumors circulated that an attack on a nuclear facility had occurred. North Korea was supplying Syria with nuclear technology. The Jerusalem Post reports:
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.
The Times of London notes:
Today the site near Dayr az-Zawr lies in ruins after it was pounded by Israeli F15Is on September 6. Before the Israelis issued the order to strike, the commandos had secretly seized samples of nuclear material and taken them back into Israel for examination by scientists, the sources say. A laboratory confirmed that the unspecified material was North Korean in origin. America approved an attack.
News of the secret ground raid is the latest piece of the jigsaw to emerge about the mysterious Israeli airstrike. Israel has imposed a news blackout, but has not disguised its satisfaction with the mission. The incident also reveals the extent of the cooperation between America and Israel over nuclear-related security issues in the Middle East. The attack on what Israeli defence sources now call the “North Korean project” appears to be part of a wider, secret war against the nonconventional weapons ambitions of Syria and North Korea which, along with Iran, appears to have been forging a new “axis of evil”.
See also, “Israel, U.S., Shared Intelligence Before Raid.”
However, Syrian Information Minister Muhsin Bilal says there was no raid. Bilal
denied the reports that an elite IDF commando unit seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before the reported IAF overflight this month.
“These reports are not true. This is a baseless fabrication like the ones that have been spread against Iraq,” Bilal said in an interview with the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat published Monday.