Spy equipment discovered near Russian military base in Syria
April 1, 2013 10 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Sophisticated intelligence-collection devices hidden inside faux boulders have been discovered on an island situated across from a Russian naval base in Syria. The devices were found on Al-Naml, an uninhabited islet of only 150 square meters, which overlooks the Syrian port of Tartus, site of a major Russian naval military facility. According to Al-Manar, a satellite television station affiliated with the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, the fake boulders were carefully placed on Al-Naml by Israeli commandos during a nighttime operation. Television images showed a system of satellite dishes and cameras, which appear to be connected to custom-made batteries via a series of cables. The imitation boulders, which conceal the electronic surveillance devices, seem to have been carefully designed in order to blend in with the surrounding rocks and brushes on Al-Nami. Al-Manar said on its website that at least three such devices were “discovered by local fishermen”. It added that the camouflaged contraptions appear to be aimed at tracking the movements of Russian vessels sailing to and from Tartus. Moreover, the devices appear to be capable of transmitting pictures of vessels to Israel in real time, via satellite. The naval base at Tartus was first leased to the Soviet Navy by the Syrian government in 1971. In response, the Kremlin forgave a multi-billion dollar debt owed by Damascus. Today, Tartus constitutes Russia’s sole military facility situated outside the regions of the former Soviet Union. It is also Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean, and many strategic analysts consider it as the primary geopolitical justification behind Moscow’s support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. No information has been released about how long the espionage devices were present on Al-Nami before their discovery last week. In early March, media affiliated with the government of Syria accused Israel of planting a number of spy devices disguised as rocks, which were found near “sensitive sites” in the country. The government-owned Syrian Arab News Agency, which published photographs of the alleged spy devices, said they were discovered at an unspecified region on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Video footage and photographs showed what appeared to be large-sized faux rocks. Nestled in their hollow interior were cameras, microphones, transmission devices, as well as large batteries, which seem similar to those discovered on Al-Nami last week.