U.S. Briefed Israel of Intention to Attack Jihadi Targets in Syria

U.S. wanted to avoid Israel mistakenly identifying Arab military airplanes flying over Syria as enemy aircraft heading toward its air space.

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Barak Ravid
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Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., Director of Operations J3, speaks about the operations in Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, during a news conference at the Pentagon.
Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., Director of Operations J3, speaks about the operations in Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, during a news conference at the Pentagon. Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The United States of America briefed Israel on Monday of its intention to attack Islamic State and Nusra Front targets in Syria overnight Monday, Israeli and American officials told Haaretz.

Senior officials in Washington called their counterparts in the prime minister’s office, Defense Ministry and the IDF late Monday night to advise them of the planned attacks. They told the Israeli officials of the approximate time and place of the planned attacks.

American and Israeli officials, both ministerial and military, continued to coordinate the moves during the night. The Americans briefed the Israelis in a number of telephone conversations of the attacks’ progress.

The coordination between the United States and Israel was critical mainly because several Arab states that don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel took place in the aerial attacks.

The Americans wanted to avoid a situation in which Israel would mistakenly identify Arab military airplanes flying over Syria as enemy aircraft heading toward its air space.

American planes took part in most of the attacks on Syria during the night. However, airplanes of the Jordanian, United Arab Emirates and probably Saudi air forces also participated in them. Qatar and Bahrain also took part in the strikes and provided logistic support via the American bases in their territory.

The United States also briefed the Syrian government ahead of the attacks. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, contacted Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Ja’afari and told him of the United States’ intention to attack IS targets in Syria.

Senior State Department officials said it was only a briefing and stressed that the U.S. did not ask the Syrians for permission to act in their air space.

Two weeks ago Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel fully supports the international coalition U.S. President Barack Obama was setting up against IS. In a speech at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Netanyahu said Israel was also contributing to the international coalition.

“Israel is carrying out its part in the struggle against the IS organization,” he said. “Some of the things are better known and some are less known.”

Senior IDF officers said last week that Israel would provide the United States with intelligence that could help it act against IS. Reuters reported that Israel had given the United States satellite photographs of IS targets.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaking at White House about air strikes against jihadists in Syria, September 23, 2014.Credit: Reuters

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