Friday, October 12, 2007
Remember Israel's Sept. 6, 2007 raid on northern Syria? The one that had Syria and Iran in a panic, the one that may have destroyed a North Korean-supplied Iranian-financed WMD facility? The one that Israel uncharacteristically acknowledged publicly? Well, Syria now claims it didn't happen.
In a manner we've come to expect from dictatorships with government-controlled media, the Syrian story keeps changing. First they said that, yes, an Israeli attack took place, but the brave Syrians chased them away, forcing them to 'drop ammunition on empty fields'... whatever that means. Then Syria said that, yes, the attack took place, but it 'just hit an unused military building'. Now they are saying that the attack never took place at all, and they're conducting tours to prove it.
Never mind that they're conducting tours at Deir ez Zor, when the initial Syrian reports said that the attack was at Tal al-Abyad -- which are, by my estimates, nearly 200 kilometers away from each other:
Never mind that. Assume that they're actually conducting tours at a location that bears some passing resemblance to the place where the raid took place.
In the case, my question to the Syrians is this: it took you a whole month to clean everything up and coach your witnesses? What took so long?
UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post cheerfully headlines this story: "Syria Tries to Save Face at Strike Site". For me, this is worth following because it shows yet another proposed location for the strike, in a detailed account given by the Syrian Foreign Minister at the time:
Does this version have any truth to it? Well, let's just say that Syrian credibility is not enhanced by telling the same story so many different ways... and that Syrian accounts of Israeli military activity are suspect by definition.
UPDATE II: What a difference a day makes:
Syria's ambassador to the United Nations confirmed on Tuesday that Israel's air strike on September 6 in northern Syria did indeed target a nuclear site, marking the first time the country has acknowledged its nuclear efforts. (link)
Syria denied Wednesday its representatives to the United Nations had confirmed that an Israel Air Force strike last month targeted nuclear facility, and added that such facilities do not exist in Syria, state-run news agency said. (link)Oops.
UPDATE III: They're not even concealing the concealment very well:
Syria has begun dismantling the remains of a site Israel bombed Sept. 6 in what may be an attempt to prevent the location from coming under international scrutiny, said U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the aftermath of the attack.It's almost enough to make me wonder -- are the Syrians using all this obvious blundering to cover up something real? (Whatever it might be, I don't think it's this.)
Based on overhead photography, the officials say the site in Syria's eastern desert near the Euphrates River had a "signature" or characteristics of a small but substantial nuclear reactor, one similar in structure to North Korea's facilities.
The dismantling of the damaged site, which appears to be still underway, could make it difficult for weapons inspectors to determine the precise nature of the facility and how Syria planned to use it. Syria, which possesses a small reactor used for scientific research, has denied seeking to expand its nuclear program. But U.S. officials knowledgeable about the Israeli raid have described the target as a nuclear facility being constructed with North Korean assistance.
The bombed facility is different from the one Syria displayed to journalists last week to back its allegations that Israel had bombed an essentially an empty building, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity because details of the Israeli attack are classified.