Israel’s military has formally admitted that it destroyed a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007.
It said the air raid in the eastern Deir-Al-Zour region had removed “an emerging existential threat to Israel and the entire region”.
The military released newly declassified materials related to the air raid on 5-6 September 2007.
They included what Israel said was footage of the strike on the Al-Kubar facility in Syria’s desert region, as well as photographs of the covert operation.
Israel said four F-16 and four F-15 fighter jets bombed the facility.
It said the reactor was close to being completed. It is long been thought Israel was responsible, but it never acknowledged this until now.
The Israeli defence minister said the public acknowledgement of the strike after more than 10 years of secrecy was a message to his country’s enemies.
Syria has repeatedly denied that the bombed site was a nuclear reactor.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said a “vast intelligence effort” began in late 2004, when Israeli agents obtained information that foreign experts – believed to be North Korean – were helping Syria with a nuclear project.
After the Israeli intelligence community located the building site and predicted that the nuclear reactor would turn operational by the end of 2007, the IDF made plans for an airstrike dubbed “Operation Outside the Box”.
At 22:30 on the night of 5 September 2007, eight fighter jets took off from two bases in southern Israel and flew towards Deir al-Zour, via the Mediterranean Sea and the Syrian-Turkish border.
The jets returned four hours later, after conducting a strike that totally disabled the reactor and caused irreversible damage, according to the IDF.Please subscribe to our newsletter