Operation Orchard: the Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

On the night of September 6, 2007, 3 squadrons of the IAF, the Israeli Air Force, destroyed the Al Kibar nuclear site in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria.

When the current Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, took over from his late father to lead the country, Mossad began to register the presence of North Korean state leaders in Syria, supporting the hypothesis that Damascus wanted to develop nuclear technologies. Furthermore, in 2004, the US State Department also reported to the Israeli political leaders a dense communication network between Syria and North Korea, a network later traced by Unit 8200 (SIGINT department of the Israeli Secret Service).

In the summer of 2007, a detachment of the Sayeret Matkal (military unit of special forces of the Israeli Defense Forces, ed.) carried out a foray into the Al Kibar site to gather evidence on the nuclear activity in place. Activity that actually appeared to be there.

At this point Prime Minister Olmert asked the Bush Administration to strike the site, however this request was refused as according to the Americans there was insufficient evidence to establish that the site was used to test nuclear weapons.

Despite the denial of the Americans, the Olmert government decided that Israel had to act on its own in order to stop a proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Lo strike carried out by the Jewish state, as usual, was a mix of intelligence capabilities, insertion of detachments of special forces (further evidence of how special operations are joint by nature), EW and air superiority.

The Israeli Defense Minister Barak himself (former IDF chief of staff) coordinated the operation. On the other hand, being the objective of a strategic-political level, it is monitored precisely by the highest leaders of the political-military organization. Furthermore, precisely because of the importance of the objective and the consequent sensitivity of the same, there are no intermediaries between who assigns the mission and who is in charge of planning and executing the attack.

In all, 10 F-15I fighter-bombers, 6 F-16I fighters (photo) were used as escorts and an unknown number of ELINT aircraft (probably Boeing 707 AEW & C, G550 CAEW, B200).

The night before the bombing, a detachment of the unit is inserted (using a helicopter) Shaldag, special forces of the Air Force, with the aim of getting closer to the target and "illuminating" it. Subsequently, the aerial platforms for the EW, have the task of "obscuring" the Syrian radars, preventing them from detecting fighters with the star of David in Syrian airspace. Once they arrived, the F-15I dropped laser-guided bombs - probably GBU-27s - at the site and destroyed it. After the mission, the Israeli fighters returned to base flying over Turkish airspace. The raiders of the Shaldag they were then exfiltrated.

As reported by WikiLeaks, Syria immediately after the attack would have put on alert the missile batteries, the SCUD-C armed with chemical warheads (nerve gas), but the fear of retaliation with Israeli nuclear weapons has blocked every possible reaction.

It should be noted that the political repercussions were minimal.

Many analysts believe that, sooner or later, Iran will also suffer a massive attack from Israel, aimed at disrupting its nuclear program. However, this would be extremely complicated as the uranium enrichment program, carried out by Tehran, is at an advanced stage and the centrifuges used for this activity are located in various sites in the country, protected by a combination of surface-air systems. (bills A2 / AD). In practice, despite the cyber attacks and the elimination of Iranian nuclear scientists, the Jewish state will not be able to block Tehran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Unless, after the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the next theater of war will be in ancient Persia.

Photo: Israeli Air Force