Syria remains silent amid Israeli revelation of nuclear facility destruction

Russian citizens living in Israel voting at one of the 14 polling stations across the country March 2018

Russian citizens living in Israel voting at one of the 14 polling stations across the country March 2018

A screen grab from a video of an undated material released by the Israeli military on March 21, 2018 shows the site during what the military describes is an Israeli air strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site near Deir al-Zor on Sept 6, 2007.

The Israeli military on Wednesday declassified internal "top secret" intelligence reports, in Hebrew, some of them partly redacted.

Eight F-16s and F-15s had taken off from two air bases and dropped 18 tonnes of munitions over a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria's Deir al-Zor region, about 450 km from Damascus, the capital, said the military. A male voice is heard counting down three seconds, a cloud of black smoke rises from the structure as it explodes.

The timing of Israel's decision to go public and justify the strike more than a decade ago comes after repeated calls in recent months by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the United States and worldwide community to take tougher action on Syria's ally, Iran.

Netanyahu shares Donald Trump's view that world powers need to scrap or rewrite the 2015 accord with Tehran that curbs its nuclear ambitions, as he believes it to be ineffective.

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The reactor, believed to have been built with North Korean designs and materials, was created to produce weapons-grade plutonium for Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad to develop a nuclear arsenal on Israel's border.

"On the night between September 5th-6th, 2007, Israeli Air Force fighter jets successfully struck and destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in development", the Israeli statement said.

"The motivation of our enemies increased in recent years, but so did the strength of the IDF. This equation should be understood by anyone in the Middle East", said Liberman. The IDF stated that it prevented escalation in the region and eliminated a nuclear threat not only to Israel, but to other countries.

Syria has never acknowledged building a nuclear reactor at the site, instead insisting months later that it was a missile facility.

Israel's military sought to justify the strike on Wednesday further, noting that the Islamic State group captured the area around the facility during Syria's civil war.

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The following summer, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors found traces of uranium at the site.

In 2008, USA officials claimed Syria tried to develop a secret nuclear reactor that was bombed by Israel.

The military did not specify why it chose to go public with the material. There was also a dispute between Olmert and his then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak who was reportedly foot-dragging over the operation.

The strike came about a year after Israel's inconclusive war against Hezbollah, in which the Lebanese group battled Israel's army to a stalemate.

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