Israeli officials are closely watching the conflict in Syria to improve their understanding and intelligence capabilities of Syria’s long range missiles, according to statements made during a public conference titled “Aerial threats in the Modern era” and held Monday at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv.
Uzi Rubin, the former head of the Israel Missile Defense Authority (IMDA) at the Ministry of Defense, and Colonel Aviram Hasson, who is in active duty as the head of systems at IMDA, discussed the monitoring during their presentation at the conference.
They said that until the recent war broke out, the Bashar al-Assad regime had adopted a completely different approach from its Iranian ally. Iran regularly stages military parades and airs television footage to highlight its missile capabilities. The regime uses the spectacles to boost the morale of its citizens, to project the image of a superpower, and to deter opponents.
Syria, on the other hand, traditionally did exactly the opposite, and tried to conceal its missile arsenal. Since the outbreak of the war the army’s long range missiles – mainly North Korean-based scud missiles produced at home and in joint ventures with Iran – have surfaced. Syria has used some of its missiles to bomb the rebels, as well as innocent civilians, and it has highlighted its arsenal in military maneuvers open to television cameras.
Israel has taken the opportunity to watch, study, and analyze the performance of the Syrian missiles. Among the most important discoveries is the detection and observation of the Scud D missile, which has a separating (detachable) warhead with cluster bombs. Israeli intelligence officials knew about the existence of this missile for at least ten years, and even got some information about it from Turkish counterparts when relations between the two countries were better. Israel is now updating its knowledge on its own.