Israel, US give conflicting accounts of ballistic missile
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Israel and the US are giving conflicting accounts of a ballistic missile fired in the Mediterranean Sea and detected by Russian radar systems. On Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Ministry said Tel-Aviv, together with the US Defense Department, have conducted a "successful [missile] test" in the Mediterranean Sea. However, the US Navy announced that it did not fire any missiles from its ships in the region. Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had detected two "ballistic targets" fired toward the eastern part of the Mediterranean from the sea's central part. The launch of the ballistic objects was detected at 10:16 Moscow time (06:16 GMT) by a radar system in the southern Russian city of Armavir, a Defense Ministry spokesman was quoted by Russia's Ria Novosti as saying. Russia's Defense Ministry has reported the launch to President Vladimir Putin. On the same day, Russia slammed the United States for deploying warships including five destroyers and an amphibious ship near the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday, saying the move will fuel tensions in the region. "The pressure being applied by the United States causes particular concern.... The dispatch of ships armed with cruise missiles toward Syria's shores has a negative effect on the situation in the region," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21. Damascus has vehemently denied the accusations, saying the chemical attack was carried out by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - are supporting the militants operating inside Syria. On July 25, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of the foreign-sponsored militancy in the country.