Al Jazeera: U.S., not Israel, destroyed Syrian reactor -- with tactical nuclear weapons; Update: Source was Islamic message board?

Too good bad freaky deaky to check.

The September 6 raid over Syria was carried out by the US Air Force, the Al-Jazeera Web site reported Friday. The Web site quoted Israeli and Arab sources as saying that two strategic US jets armed with tactical nuclear weapons carried out an attack on a nuclear site under construction.

The sources were quoted as saying that Israeli F-15 and F-16 jets provided cover for the US planes.

The sources added that each US plane carried one tactical nuclear weapon and that the site was hit by one bomb and was totally destroyed.

I can’t even find the story on AJ’s website; we’ll have to take JPost’s word that it was there. Is there any reason to believe this is something other than pure, undistilled anti-American shinola being peddled by jihadis’ favorite news source? Two that I can think of. If you’re making a daring raid into enemy territory that might very well trigger war you’ll want to make sure you at least destroy the target you came for, including any underground structures. That means using the heaviest club you’ve got. What it doesn’t explain is why U.S. jets would be needed to deliver the goods given that Israel also has nuclear weapons. Conceivably they didn’t have one big enough to take out the building but small enough not to alert the world of the detonation when it went off, and the U.S. did. Would Bush be willing to lend a nuclear hand to take out a reactor that was years away from being usable? Even to scare Iran? Doubtful.

The other reason is this report from Britain’s Spectator that Bryan blogged about a few weeks ago. I’ve wondered about it ever since I read it. The language always seemed a bit too dire for the facts as we know, or think we know, them:

Even more curious is that far from pushing the Syrians and Israelis to war, both seem determined to put a lid on the affair. One month after the event, the absence of hard information leads inexorably to the conclusion that the implications must have been enormous.

That was confirmed to The Spectator by a very senior British ministerial source: ‘If people had known how close we came to world war three that day there’d have been mass panic. Never mind the floods or foot-and-mouth — Gordon really would have been dealing with the bloody Book of Revelation and Armageddon.’

Israel and Syria have been flirting with war for most of the year, to the point where IDF officers were publicly predicting it would happen this summer. There’s potential for that conflict to become a world war if Iran jumps in and either it or Syria drags the U.S. in by attacking Iraq. But no one seemed terribly worried about that prospect and Iran, after all, tends to do its fighting through its proxies. So what would explain that hair-raising “world war three”/massive public freakout imagined by the unnamed British minister? Well … a nuclear attack on a Middle Eastern country certainly would. Or maybe the minister’s just a typical British dove soiling himself at the thought of any type of “aggression.”

Here’s a side-by-side before and after of the site for the benefit of any military readers who might have a better sense of what a landscape looks like after a tactical nuke detonates. I think the story’s 99 and 44/100ths crap, but you tell me.

Update: Follow the comments below. People who’d know better than I are saying that it makes no sense to do this with jets, if in fact the U.S. was involved. The aircraft of choice would have been a B2 stealth bomber.

Update: Rusty says he got a tip about this yesterday from an Islamic message board, which may explain where AJ got its info. Or maybe the message board poster had already seen it on AJ and cribbed it from there. Hard to say.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on March 29, 2023