U.S. military chief in Israel to oversee joint drill
The American military chief is in Israel to observe the largest armed forces drill between the two countries.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was meeting Oct. 28 with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the beginning of his visit. He’ll also be meeting with his Israeli counterpart and the country’s president.
He plans to oversee elements of Austere Challenge 2012, an air defense drill that includes more than 3,500 Americans and 1,000 Israelis. They are practicing their ability to work together against a range of threats facing Israel.
The joint exercise tests multiple Israeli and American air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets from places as far away as Iran. AP
Iran has drone pictures of Israeli bases
A prominent Iranian lawmaker says Tehran has pictures of sensitive Israeli military bases taken by an unmanned aircraft launched by Lebanon’s Hezbollah and downed by Israel earlier this month.
Ismaeil Kowsari also says Iranian-backed Hezbollah possesses more sophisticated Iranian-made drones than the one downed, drones that can carry weapons.
Kowsari’s remarks are the first claims by Iran that it has images of Israeli military bases from drone flights, apparently via live transmission during the mission.
His comments were carried Oct. 29 by the semiofficial Mehr news agency.
Iran has claimed that Iranian-made surveillance drones had made dozens of apparently undetected flights into Israeli airspace from Lebanon in recent years.
An Israeli official rejected the account. He spoke on condition of anonymity because an Israeli military investigation is still under way. AP
U.S. seeks Algeria’s support in possible Mali move
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is seeking Algeria’s assistance for any future military intervention in Mali.
Algeria, North Africa’s most stable nation, is seen as a key and necessary contributor of intelligence – if not boots on the ground – to any effort to rout the al Qaeda-linked militants across its southern border.
With Algeria warming to the idea of a possible intervention, Clinton met Monday with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers. U.S. officials said Mali would be a key component of the talks.
The intervention plan right now would see Mali’s embattled government in the south and its West African neighbors taking the military lead against northern rebels, with the United States and European countries in support. AP
Israel believes sanctions on Iran hit Hezbollah
A top Israeli military official says international sanctions against Iran are cutting its flow of aid and weapons to anti-Israel Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.
Even so, he says the Lebanese guerrilla group remains a potent force with an arsenal far larger and of higher quality than it possessed during a monthlong war against Israel in 2006.
Speaking Oct. 29, the official said Hezbollah possesses tens of thousands of rockets and missiles capable of striking deep inside Israel.
Israel has expressed concerns that Syria’s chemical weapons might fall into the hands of Hezbollah as the Syrian civil war deepens. The official said for now, the Syrian government appears to be maintaining control over its chemical weapons arsenals.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity under military rules. AP
Iran begins new military exercises
Iran’s regular army has begun a two-day ground and air military exercise aimed at upgrading its combat readiness and increasing its deterrence against possible attacks.
State TV says the drills involve forces in a wide region in western Iran near the Iraqi border. It showed troops parachuting from helicopters near the towns of Sarpol-e Zahab and Qasr-e Shirin, about 430 miles west of Tehran.
The war games are taking place amid escalating tensions between Iran and the West over Iran’s disputed nuclear program. Israel has hinted that it may take military action if talks fail to get Iran stop its uranium enrichment program.
The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies. AP