- - Wednesday, February 29, 2012

JERUSALEM — Russia has upgraded a surveillance station it maintains in Syrian territory in order to provide Iran early warning of an Israeli attack, according to the Israeli security-related blog Debkafile.

The surveillance station, located south of Damascus, had been able to monitor air traffic in Israel as far south as Tel Aviv, as well as northern Jordan and western Iraq.

Since the upgrade, its range reportedly extends to all parts of Israel and Jordan and as far south as the northern part of Saudi Arabia.

According to the report, Russia has introduced cutting-edge technology to the station and expanded its manpower.

Russia has taken a firm stand against any military attack on Iran or any attempt to force Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said this week that Russia is concerned about the threat of an attack against Iran.

“If it happens, the fallout would be truly catastrophic,” he said, also warning that any outside attempt to displace Mr. Assad would open Syria to “a Libyan scenario.”

Debkafile said the upgrade of the electronic surveillance station at Jabal Al Harrah was in response to concern expressed by Iran that the station’s resources were being stretched to the limit by providing so much intelligence to the Assad regime in Syria that Tehran no longer could rely on its real-time warnings of an Israeli attack.

The monitoring station had been providing Mr. Assad with information on the Syrian resistance movements.

Russia also has expanded the capabilities of a Russian-equipped Syrian radar station on Lebanon’s Mount Sannine in order to extend its range to include Cyprus and Greece, and observe U.S. and Israeli naval and aerial movements in the eastern Mediterranean.

This expansion also would permit Russia to provide Tehran with a warning if American planes head east from the Mediterranean in the direction of Iran.

While the upgrade of Jabal Al Harrah was under way from January through mid-February, the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov was in the Syrian port of Tartus, where its electronic systems maintained an alert for possible Israeli air formations heading east.

Mr. Putin has said he supports Iran’s right to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes. He has urged that Western sanctions against Iran be dropped if Tehran agrees to place its nuclear program under complete supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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