IDF Lifts Censorship Restrictions on Air Strike in Syria

The Israel Defense Forces yesterday lifted censorship on the air strike carried out on a target deep in Syria on September 6. According to foreign media reports, the strike apparently targeted a North Korean-built nuclear facility in northeast Syria.

Syria and North Korea have both vehemently denied any nuclear cooperation. (See analysis, Page A2)

In an unusually strict measure, Israel's military censor had prevented the country's media from reporting on the strike - carried out by the Israel Air Force - unless the reports were based on revelations in the foreign press.

The IDF is still maintaining censorship on the details of the action, including the target, the troops involved, the mission's success, and the decision-making process leading up to it. Censorship was lifted after a request by Haaretz, mainly because Syrian President Bashar Assad confirmed the air strike in an interview broadcast by the BBC on Monday.

Assad told the BBC that Israeli warplanes attacked an unused military building, the first time Syria officially acknowledged an air raid had taken place.

Assad charged that the air strike showed that Israel is not interested in making peace. Israel cannot talk about peace and carry out attacks against a neighboring country, he said.

Assad also said his country does not want nuclear projects, whether civilian or military.

Previously, Syrian officials had said only that the Israeli warplanes entered the country's airspace, came under fire from anti-aircraft defenses, and dropped munitions and fuel tanks over northeast Syria to lighten their loads while they fled.

Assad said the raid showed what he described as Israel's visceral antipathy toward peace.