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Israel test-fires missile in Mediterranean Sea

Israel confirmed that it had carried out a missile test in the Mediterranean after Russia's early-warning system sounded the alarm.

Israel missile test Mediterranean 3 9 2013Enlarge
Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries are positioned in the Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa north of Israel on August 29, 2013. On September 3, Israel announced that it had carried out a missile test in the Mediterranean Sea. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel claimed to have test-fired a missile in the Mediterranean Sea Tuesday, as the United States prepared to debate a proposal to use its naval forces there to launch air strikes on Syria.

The Israeli Defense Ministry said that the test, which it described as "successful," was carried out jointly with a section of the US Defense Department, the Associated Press reported.

"The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) completed a successful flight test of the new version of the Sparrow target missile," the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page.

"This is the first fly out test of this new version of the Sparrow, and was conducted at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean sea. At 9:15 the Sparrow missile successfully launched and performed its planned trajectory, in accordance with the test plan. [...] All the elements of the system performed according to their operational configuration."

The statement came shortly after Russia announced that its early-warning radar systems had detected two "ballistic targets" fired from the central Mediterranean toward the eastern coastline. 

Both fell into the sea, a diplomatic source in Syria told Russian news agency RIA. Syrian radar did not show any missiles reaching land, Lebanon's al-Manar TV quoted a Syrian security source as saying.

Israel's experimental missile is part of an anti-missile system jointly developed by Israeli aerospace companies and Boeing. According to Reuters, the Sparrow simulates Syrian and Iranian long-range missiles in order to provide target practice for Israel's US-backed ballistic shield, Arrow.

While Israel's Defense Ministry said that US Missile Defense Agency staff helped carried out Tuesday's launch, American officials stressed that US forces were not directly involved.

"There have been no offensive or defensive missile launches by the US military," a military source told CNN. Another official described it as an "expected Israeli system test."

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are due to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later on Tuesday on proposed military action in Syria.

President Barack Obama's administration is advocating air strikes in response to what it claims was a chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, but will seek approval from Congress before going ahead.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/130903/israel-test-fires-missile-mediterranean-sea