U.S. government spokespersons today confirmed an attack by Syrian aircraft on the U.S. Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia. The target appeared to be a shipment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles intended for Israel.
RIGHT: Syrian aircraft releasing their weapons. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Syrian officials neither confirmed nor denied responsibility, but had previously stated that the installation of weapons in Israel that might endanger their reconnaissance flights over Israeli territory would be considered a provocative act and a “red line” that they would not permit to be crossed.
“Israeli terrorists have repeatedly launched attacks against us from their territory, which is why our aircraft must be able to overfly that territory as much as we want, in order to gather intelligence that will help us prevent another attack,”
said a senior Syrian military official on condition of anonymity. “We cannot allow these weapons to reach Israeli territory.”
U.S and Israeli officials speculated that this might be the “surprise response” that Syria had promised when Israeli jets hit a target in Syria that many suspected was a convoy of SA-17 surface-to-air missiles on its way to the Lebanese resistance organization Hezbollah. Those weapons would have endangered Israeli aircraft that regularly overfly Lebanese territory. Israel and Syria have no mutual agreement that allows each to overfly the other’s territory, and the same is true of Lebanon and Israel.
The United States and Israel have each lodged separate protests to the United Nations. “Our sovereign territory has been violated and attacked,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. “We would never do something like that to Syria, because we obey international law. We therefore ask the United Nations to provide redress for this action.”
Israel similarly protested that it had the right to procure defensive weapons. “The Patriots are a defensive weapons system that can only be used against aircraft that violate our airspace,” said Eviatar Manor, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations. “Every nation has the right to defend against violation of its territory.”