MOSCOW — Israel said it carried out a test of a missile, used as a target in a U.S.-funded anti-missile system, in the Mediterranean on Tuesday.
The Israeli Defence Ministry said the test was conducted at 9:15 a.m. , about the same time that Russia’s state-run RIA news agency reported that Russian radar had detected the launch of two ballistic “objects” in the Mediterranean.
Russian radar detected the launch of two ballistic “objects” in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday but there was no sign of a missile strike on the Syrian capital Damascus, Russia’s state-run RIA news agency said.
A Defence Ministry spokesman told Russian news agencies the launch was detected at 10:16 am Moscow time by an early warning radar station at Armavir, near the Black Sea, which is designed to detect missiles from Europe and Iran.
“The trajectory of these objects goes from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea toward the eastern part of the Mediterranean coast,” Interfax news agency quoted the spokesman as saying.
The spokesman did not say who had carried out the launch and whether any impact had been detected, but RIA later quoted a source in Syria’s “state structures” as saying the objects had fallen harmlessly into the sea.
The Russian Defence Ministry declined comment to Reuters.
The Russian Embassy in Syria said there were no signs of a missile attack or explosions in Damascus, state-run Itar-Tass reported.
Israel initially said it was unaware of any ballistic missile launch being conducted in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We are not aware, at this time, of such an event having occurred,” a military spokeswoman in Jerusalem said.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had informed President Vladimir Putin of the launch.
Russia criticized the United states on Tuesday for sending warships close to Syria, saying the deployments would exacerbate tension as Washington prepares for a possible military strike.
Russia opposes any outside military intervention in the Syrian civil war, and a Defence Ministry official had earlier criticised the United States for deploying warships in the Mediterranean close to Syria.
The United States has been preparing for a possible military strike in Syria following what it says was a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces. Damascus denies carrying out such an attack.
“The pressure being applied by the United States causes particular concern,” Russian Defence Ministry official Oleg Dogayev was quoted as saying by the state-run Itar-Tass news agency.
He said “the dispatch of ships armed with cruise missiles toward Syria’s shores has a negative effect on the situation in the region.”
Five U.S. destroyers and an amphibious ship are in the Mediterranean, poised for possible cruise missile strikes against Syria, and U.S. officials said the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and four other ships in its strike group moved into the Red Sea on Monday.
Russia, one of the Syrian government’s main arms suppliers, opposes military intervention over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. Moscow is also sending new warships to the Mediterranean but says it is just rotating ships in the area.