<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> WorldTribune.com: Mobile Israeli missile defense system detects Syrian tests
Thousands from Palestinian surge over border remain in Egypt

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

TEL AVIV Israeli officials said the Syrian military conducted tests of both ballistic missiles and tactical rockets in the spring and summer of 2008.

"It was the kind of test that Iran conducted earlier this year and meant to show that Syria could fire missiles simultaneously from a range of batteries in the southern and central parts of the country," an official said.

The Syrian tests were detected by Israel's Arrow-2 missile defense system. The Arrow's Green Pine early-warning radar was said to have a range of more than 800 kilometers, which covers most of Syria.

Officials said the Syrian tests included that of the Scud D ballistic missile, with a range of 700 kilometers and which can contain a chemical warhead. They said North Korea has helped Syria develop a two-stage Scud D meant to frustrate Israel's missile defense system. They said the launches appeared to test Syria's command and control network required to sustain a missile attack on Israel.

Syria was also said to have fired the Soviet-origin SS-21 rocket during the exercise. The single-stage SS-21 has a range of more than 70 kilometers and was said to be capable of striking Israeli strategic facilities.

Officials said Syria has about 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, including the Scud B and Scud C. They said Iran and North Korea have been helping Syria integrate a range of missile and rocket batteries into a nationwide network.

Israel responded to the Syrian missile launches with a missile defense exercise in August. Officials acknowledged that neither Israel's Arrow-2 nor the U.S.-origin Patriot systems could intercept most of Syria's missiles and rockets.

Israel's Channel 2 television disclosed the Syrian missile and rocket exercise on Aug. 18, the eve of a visit by President Bashar Assad to Russia. Assad was expected to discuss with his Russian hosts the prospect of purchasing the Iskander-E rocket, with a range of 280 kilometers.

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