Israel on Tuesday claimed responsibility for firing dummy missiles that were detected by Russia and briefly spurred speculation that a U.S. missile attack on the Syrian military had begun, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Russian radar picked up the presence of two “ballistic” objects not long after 10 a.m. Moscow time, according to reports by official Russian media. At first, the missile detection aroused concern that the United States had begun a targeted missile strike on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad as punishment for its recent alleged large-scale chemical-weapons attack. However, Russia’s diplomatic headquarters in Damascus said there were no indications of any physical fallout from a missile attack, according to RIA Novosti.
Approximately two hours after Moscow announced the detection of the ballistic objects, the Israeli military claimed ownership of them and said they were targets that were part of a bilateral missile-defense drill with the United States.
Igor Korotchenko, who edits the Russian National Defense journal, blasted Israel for the timing of the missile-defense exercise.
“If Israel chose to act so totally irresponsibly, the United States should have at least used the hotline between Washington and the Kremlin to warn Moscow of such tests,” he said, adding, “It is not clear whether the Kremlin was informed in advance.”
President Obama has said he would seek congressional authorization for a military strike on Syria, which could involve cruise missiles fired from U.S. warships in the Mediterranean.
An unidentified U.S. Navy spokesman at the service’s European command on Tuesday said “no missiles were fired from U.S. ships in the Mediterranean,” Reuters reported.