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Author`s name Alex Naumov

USA helps Israel only to test its arms under live battle conditions

The U.S. provided Israel with information about Syrian air defenses before Israel attacked a suspected nuclear site in Syria, Aviation Week & Space Technology is reporting in its Nov. 26 edition.

The U.S. was monitoring the electronic emissions coming from Syria during Israel's Sept. 6 attack, and while there was no active American engagement in the operation, there was advice provided, according to military and aerospace industry officials.

The first event in the raid involved Israel's strike aircraft flying into Syria without alerting Syrian air defenses. The ultimate target was a suspected nuclear reactor being developed at Dayr az-Zawr. But the main attack was preceded by an engagement with a single Syrian radar site at Tall al-Abuad near the Turkish border, Aviation Week reports.

Pravda.Ru has interviewed Professor Richard J Aldrich, Department of Politics and International Studies University of Warwick, to find out more about US interference into the conflict between Israel and Syria.

Pravda.Ru: Can we speak here about the US interference into the conflict between Israel and Syria?

Richard Aldrich: Not really. Intelligence and technical co-operation amongst friendly countries is now so widespread that it is hardly meaningful to talk about 'interference'. Many European countries also exchange intelligence with Israel. Indeed, during the Cold War, Israel even exchanged intelligence with the Soviet Union. Even intelligence rumored to come from Israeli espionage operations inside the United States!

In this case, Aviation Week has made it clear that it was Israeli personnel and units that undertook these electronic operations, not Americans.

However, there are important benefits from this close relationship for both the United States and Israel. Israel clearly benefits from very advanced technological assistance in the area of electronic intelligence and network warfare which may have helped with this operation. Equally, it is likely that the United States received reports on the operational effectiveness of this equipment in return. In short, the operation against Syria would have provided the US military with great opportunities to see the latest secret equipment under "live battle conditions". This is always considered to be invaluable.

Pravda.Ru: It is well-known fact that most part of Syrian strategic objects is operated by Russia. Is there a possibility that it was US intelligence operation against Russia?

Richard Aldrich: Not really. It is unlikely that Russia has given its latest air defense equipment to friendly countries in the Middle East and so the United States would not learn much about current Russian capabilities by looking at Syrian Air Defense. Its more likely that the United States would gather useful intelligence against Syria itself during this operation. The information might also be useful against another regional power operating similar types of equipment.

Pravda.Ru: Can we speak here that this operation will launch a new war in the field of electronic and digital technologies?

Richard Aldrich: Electronic warfare has been around a long time and had already reached quite a level of sophistication during the Second World War. However, the new aspect of this operation was the use of network attacks. It appears that the command and control systems of the Syrian military were directly attacked by Israelis using computers as weapons. This is a specialist form of military hacking. For many years there has been an active debate about how practical and realistic the idea of pure 'network warfare' really is. During the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s this activity seemed to be limited to fairly trivial "denial of service" attacks.

Now, perhaps we have seen the first live example of the military application of network warfare.

One of the troubling issues with network warfare is that it is hard for the victim to know if they have been attacked - or merely suffered a network failure. Even if they are sure they are being attacked, they can't always tell who is attacking them?

For this reason, Israel's attack on 6 September appears to herald a frightening new era in the realm of electronic warfare.

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik