Tel Aviv (Jul. 5)
The Soviet Union and Syria are holding joint naval maneuvers off the Syrian coast. Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zipori said today that they are intended as a reply to the joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercises held in Egypt recently or as a warning to Israel not to attack Syria’s SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles in Lebanon.
Zipori told reporters after today’s Cabinet meeting that they were probably intended for both purposes. According to Cabinet sources the maneuvers were noted by the ministers but not discussed. They include practice amphibious landings on the Syrian coast. Israeli Air Force pilots who flew over the Mediterranean reported sighting a “gigantic armada” of Soviet ships west of Lebanon, steaming toward the Syrian coast, Uri Porat, the Premier’s spokesman, said the Cabinet had deliberately refrained from discussing the exercises because they “are directed against the United States.