Israel Defense Forces said that Israeli airstrikes had destroyed a nuclear facility in 2007 in the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor, adding that the move was a message to Iran, Sputnik reports. "The operation successfully removed an emerging existential threat to Israel and to the entire region - Syrian nuclear capabilities".
The airstrike inside Syria on September 6, 2007, codenamed "Outside the Box", was one of Israel's most closely held secrets.
"To Russia, the Assad regime, and with respect to the Iranian nuclear program should the Iranians accelerate enrichment and seek to break out, that the Israelis are prepared to act against Iran as well".
In 2008 the United States presented what it described as intelligence showing that North Korea had helped Syria with "covert nuclear activities".
Syria has never acknowledged building a nuclear reactor at the site, instead insisting months later that it was a missile facility.
The admission along with the release of newly declassified material related to the raid comes as Israel intensifies its warnings over the presence of its main enemy Iran in neighbouring Syria.
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Eight fighter jets flew at low altitude on the secret mission against the suspected plutonium nuclear reactor in the Deir el-Zour region of eastern Syria, the military said.
The issue has recently resurfaced after Olmert compiled a memoir during his time in prison, where he served a 16-month corruption sentence.
In 2017, Syria's Permanent Representative at the UN Bashar al-Ja'afari lashed out at the Security Council and the IAEA for their failure to denounce Israel's blatant military attack in 2007, noting that Israel refused to cooperate with the IAEA in investigating the possible contamination caused by the Israeli rockets and the materials used to destroy the site.
"The courageous decision of the Israeli government nearly 11 years ago to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria and the successful operation following it sends a clear message: Israel will never allow nuclear weapons to countries like Iran who threaten its existence", Katz tweeted Wednesday. The collection of information began in 2004 and included cooperation with "parallel security forces", the Israeli military statement said, hinting at top-level coordination between the Israeli government led by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the George W. Bush administration ahead of the strike.
Under cover of night, the jets took off at 10:30 pm, flying low to avoid detection and returning at 2:30 am. In 1981, the IDF bombed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, for which it immediately claimed credit.
"This was our message in 2007, this remains our message today and will continue to be our message in the near and distant future".