Unannounced Israel-U.S. missile test fuels jitters over Syria

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
By Paul Martin

By Dan Williams and Steve Gutterman
Yahoo.com
Sept 3, 2013

JERUSALEM/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Israel tested a U.S.-backed missile system in the Mediterranean on Tuesday but did not announce the launch in advance, prompting a disclosure by Russia that kept the world on edge as the United States weighed an attack on Syria.

The morning launch was first reported by Moscow media that quoted Russian defense officials as saying two ballistic “objects” had been fired eastward from the center of the sea – roughly in the direction of Syria.

The news ruffled financial markets until Israel’s Defence Ministry said that it, along with a Pentagon team, had carried out a test-launch of a Sparrow missile. The Sparrow, which simulates the long-range missiles of Syria and Iran, is used for target practice by Israel’s U.S.-backed ballistic shield Arrow.

“Israel routinely fires missiles or drones off its shores to test its own ballistic defense capabilities,” a U.S. official said in Washington.

Western naval forces have been gathering in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea since President Bashar al-Assad was accused of carrying out an August 21 gas attack in his more than two-year-old conflict with rebels trying to topple him.

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