August 5, 2013

Diplomat: Obama approved intelligence leaks on Israeli air strikes in Syria

Special to
WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community leaked information on Israeli air strikes on Syria, sources said.
Diplomats said the administration of President Barack Obama has enabled the intelligence community to disclose Israeli military operations against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. They said the leaks included unreported Israeli air and naval strikes on advanced Iranian and Russian weapons that arrived in 2013.
Israeli F-16.
Israeli F-16.
“This is a decision that could come only from Obama,” a diplomat said. “[T]his reflects his dismay over the Israeli operations, which the president believes could result in a regional war.”
Last month, the U.S. intelligence community reported an Israeli air and naval strike on a recent shipment of the P-800 Yakhont coastal defense system.
The diplomats attributed the leaks to the CIA, which first disclosed the July 5 Israeli strike on Latakia and later said the operation was unsuccessful. The Israeli F-16 multi-role fighters were said to have refrained from entering Syrian air space.
“While the warehouse was destroyed, American intelligence analysts have now concluded that at least some of the Yakhont missiles had been removed from their launchers and moved from the warehouse before the attack,” a U.S. official told the New York Times on July 31.
The diplomats said Israel has protested the U.S. leaks, which increased tension with Damascus. They said the purported CIA leaks have strained relations with Israel’s intelligence community, particularly the Mossad. The CIA director is John Brennan, regarded as a confidant of Obama.
“The Israelis have also been going to their friends in Congress to stop the leaks,” the diplomat said.
Russia was also said to have delivered the SA-26 air defense system and two overhauled Mi-24 attack helicopters to the naval base in Tartous. For its part, Moscow has denied deliveries of offensive systems to the Assad regime.
In the latest U.S. leak, the intelligence community asserted that the Assad regime tried to conceal the failed Israeli strike on Latakia, the fourth such operation in 2013. The Times said Syrian units torched launchers and vehicles to make Israel believe that it destroyed the P-800.
“The leaks will continue because there is a lot of resentment within the U.S. intelligence community over Israeli assessments regarding such countries as Egypt, Iran and Syria,” the diplomat said.