Israel says Syrian rocket tests show regime’s fear

JERUSALEM: Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that Syrian long-range missile tests detected in Israel show that the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad fears for its future.

“Just a few days ago, just a few hundred kilometres northeast of this spot, we saw the firing of all sorts of rockets,” Barak’s office quoted him as saying during a tour of the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak speaks at the Halifax Security Forum at the Westin Nova Scotian hotel in Halifax November 19, 2011. REUTERS/Sandor Fizli

Israeli media have reported that the country’s missile defence radar picked up test launches of long-range missiles “recently” without giving further details.

Syrian state news agency SANA said that rockets and tanks were tested in manoeuvres on Sunday night “as part of a 2011 training programme … to deter any enemy attack.”

“It is possible that there may be further such demonstrations of (Syria’s) ability, but this is an incident which happened more as a result of fear and distress than as a result of confidence,” Barak said.

“The Assad family is losing its grip and Bashar al-Assad is doomed to fall,” Barak added. “I don’t know if it will take weeks or months but there is no redemption for that family which today is slaughtering its own people.

“There is no doubt that the Assad family and Bashar al-Assad are coming to the end of their reign,” he went on. “There is no way of knowing what day that will happen.”

A Syrian analyst said the exercises were “a show of force designed to intimidate.”

Another Syrian analyst, who also declined to be named, said the war games aimed to deter “any (Western) impulse to intervene militarily in Syria by showing that it is prepared to declare a regional war.”

Syria has come under US, EU and Arab sanctions over its suppression of anti-regime protests in which the United Nations says more than 4,000 people have been killed since mid-March.

Source: Daily Star

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