Russia has claimed that its missile early warning system has detected the launch of two missiles from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea fired towards the Sea’s eastern coastline.
The launches took place at 10:16 am Moscow time (0616 GMT) and were detected by the ballistic missile early warning system in Armavir in southern Russia, the defence ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.
Shortly after 11am, Israel announced that it had carried out a joint missile test with the US in the Mediterranean, using a missile designed to shoot down incoming missiles.
Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency said both missiles then crashed into the sea, citing a source in Damascus.
The Russian embassy in Syria said there was no sign of a missile attack or of explosions in Damascus. The Ministry of Defence in London confirmed that the missiles were not British.
In a sign of the tenions in the region, reports of missiles being fired had an instant effect on markets. The FTSE 100 fell as much as 0.8pc to 6,456.95 and the price of Brent crude, which has risen in recent days on Middle East concerns, spiked as much as 1.2pc to $115.74 a barrel this morning. It reached a six-month high of $117.34 on Wednesday.
Israel claims joint US missile launch in Mediterranean for ‘target practice’
Edited time: September 03, 2013 15:49
Israel says it carried out a “joint” US missile launch in the Mediterranean, having earlier claimed ignorance. Russian radars detected two ballistic rockets fired in the region on Tuesday, sparking widespread speculation over who was behind the launch.
A spokesperson for the Israeli army confirmed that a launch of a missile had been carried out 9:15am local time (06:15 GMT), adding that US forces in the Mediterranean had been given prior warning of the drill.
A fighter jet launched an Ankor-type (“Sparrow”) missile as part of a drill to test the Israeli missile defense system. However, earlier, when the Russian government announced it had detected the firing of “two ballistic objects” in the area, Israel insisted it had no “information on this issue yet.”
Despite Israeli claimed of a “joint US” missile launch, the American Navy maintained that no rockets were launched by US forces in the region.
“No missiles were fired from US ships in the Mediterranean,” said the spokesman, who made no further comment on the matter.
Other members of the international community were quick to follow suit with France, UK and Italy denying any knowledge of the test launch. NATO said it was investigating the incident.
The Pentagon later admitted that the Israeli missile test in the Mediterranean was carried out “with technical support of the US Defense Department.”
The test was also “pre-planned,” according to the US Defense Department spokesman George Little quoted by Itar-Tass.
The Israeli Defense Ministry confirmed a US defense agency took part in a “successful flight test of the new version of the Sparrow target missile” in an e-mail statement to RT Arabic.