JERUSALEM — Israel announced today the successful launch of a missile in a joint exercise with the United States, which came as Washington mulls military intervention in Syria.
“The Israeli defense ministry and the American MDA (Missile Defense Agency) Tuesday morning at 9:15 (0615 GMT) successfully launched an Ankor-type radar missile,” the defense ministry said in a statement.
“The test was launched from the Mediterranean and directed from an army base in the center of Israel,” it said.
Moscow’s defense ministry, as cited by Russian news agencies, earlier said its early warning system had detected the launch of two ballistic missiles from the central part of the Mediterranean fired toward the sea’s eastern coastline this morning.
The defense ministry statement mentioned only one missile.
The test involved a new version of the Ankor (Sparrow) missile “and was concluded at ... a test range over the Mediterranean Sea,” a separate Israeli defense ministry statement said.
The missile was to test missile tracking capabilities, according to local media.
The Russian news agencies said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had reported to President Vladimir Putin about the event, which comes amid growing expectations of Western military action in Syria.
“The trajectory of the targets in question was from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea towards the eastern part of the Mediterranean coastline,” the Interfax news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying.
Putin, a vocal critic of the West’s policies on Syria, has expressed strong doubt that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind an alleged chemical attack on Aug. 21 that has prompted calls for military action.
US President Obama’s decision on Saturday to ask Congress to authorize military action against Syria lifted the threat last week of immediate strikes on Assad’s government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Jewish state was prepared for “every possible scenario” in neighboring Syria, but President Shimon Peres ruled out Israeli involvement in any intervention.
“It is not for Israel to decide on Syria, we are in a unique position, for varying reasons there is consensus against Israeli involvement. We did not create the Syrian situation,” he said.