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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Syria missile debris 'hit Turkey'
Scud launcher
Israel said the Scud missiles could have carried chemical weapons
Syria test-fired three Scud missiles last week, one of which broke up over Turkey, according to Israeli officials.

Israeli military officials told the New York Times newspaper the missiles were capable of carrying chemical weapons.

Turkey's envoy to the US told the paper Syria had apologised for the stray missile, which is not believed to have caused any damage or casualties.

Israeli officials said they regarded the missile test - Syria's first since 2001 - as a gesture of defiance.

They said it was the first time a Syrian missile had entered the airspace of a Nato-member country.

The officials are quoted as saying they saw little remarkable in the tests other than their timing, which coincided with the start of elections in Syria's neighbour, Lebanon.

Lebanon is going to the polls for the first time since Syria was pressured to withdraw its troops from the country following the assassination in February of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

There has been no comment from Damascus on the reported missile tests.

Missile concerns

A top Israeli official told the New York Times Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad had taken a risk in conducting the tests.

"This is really putting your fingers in the eyes of the Americans, saying, 'I'm not dancing to your flute,' " he was quoted as saying.

Israel said a Turkish village had been showered with debris from one of the missiles, which are designed to deliver chemical weapons in mid-air.

The paper quoted Turkey's Washington envoy as saying Ankara had received an apology from Damascus for the "technical mishap".

Israel has repeatedly voiced concern at Syria's efforts to bolster its missile technology to counter Israel's apparent air superiority.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin recently assured Israel his country's plans to sell missiles to Syria would not upset the balance of forces in the region.

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