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Israel conducts missile test in Mediterranean

7:32 AM, Sep 3, 2013   |    comments
This undated file image provided by the French Navy communication department shows Frenh Navy frigate Chevalier Paul at sea. The French military is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria if President Francois Hollande decides to do so.
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(USATODAY.com) - Tensions over Syria ratcheted up a notch on Tuesday after Russia's Defense Ministry said it detected traces of ballistic "objects" - now claimed by Israel - launched from an area in the central Mediterranean and moving in an easterly direction.

After some initial confusion over who was responsible, the Israeli military said it was behind the launch, saying it was carrying out a joint missile test with the United States.

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Israel's Defense Ministry said in a statement the test of its "new version of the Sparrow target missile" was "successful." The Sparrow is an anti-missile system developed by the Israeli firm Rafael in conjunction with Boeing.

However, it was not immediately clear to what extent the U.S. was involved in the missile test. Earlier, CBS News tweeted that a U.S. official confirmed that American ships or planes were not involved in the missile launches.

Separately, Pentagon spokesman Navy Commander William Speaks told the Associated Press: "I have nothing to confirm those reports whatsoever."

But Yaacov Havakook, the head of the international media department at Israel's Defense Ministry, confirmed that the test was conducted in full partnership with the U.S. He said he did not know when it was planned.

Earlier, Russia's state-run Interfax news agency said the "targets fell into the sea."

The Russian embassy in Syria said there was no sign of a missile attack or explosions in Damascus. Russia's Defense Ministry declined comment.

Moscow said the launch was detected at 10:16 a.m. local time (2:16 a.m. ET).

The development comes as Congress prepares to hold a vote on whether the U.S. should take military action in Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.



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