Speculation Centers on Fears of Missiles and Nuclear Weapons

Why are Israeli military jets flying over Syria?

ByABC News
February 12, 2009, 9:50 AM

JERUSALEM, Sept. 14. 2007 — -- Eight days ago, the Syrian government announced that Israeli military jets had been spotted flying through Syrian airspace. The Syrians said the jets had been fired upon and had fled. The Israelis said nothing at all.

Ever since, the region and its media have been engaged in a frenzy of speculation as to what really happened. As soon as news of the reported incident broke, the Israeli government imposed a complete media blackout.

That blackout has muzzled Israeli journalists who have been frustrated by the silence of their usually talkative defense sources. In one bulletin an Israeli radio announcer sarcastically told his audience to log onto the Web site of a government-sponsored Syrian newspaper to find out what really happened.

In the strange atmosphere that has followed last week's incident, the region's bloggers have been working overtime to fill the void. What seems clear is that something important did happen, and far from the Israeli mission being limited to probing, or reconnaissance, the consensus view is that the Israelis flew a mission that had a real target.

This speculation has been supported by a number of anonymous defense sources in the United States. One such source is quoted in The New York Times saying, "The strike I can confirm, the target, I can't."

Judging by the extraordinary secrecy attached to the target, it was highly sensitive. Another unnamed U.S. source said the Israeli strike "left a big hole in the desert." Meanwhile the Syrians are sticking to their story that the Israelis turned and ran once they were detected. Syrian U.N. ambassador Bashar al Ja'afari told reporters: "There was no target. They dropped their munitions. They were running away."

Here are the leading theories about the target, in no particular order of credibility or importance: