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Israel holds joint missile test

Israel and the US have held a joint missile test over the Mediterranean, a display of military force as the Syria crisis rumbles on.

Any US strikes on Syria in retaliation for chemical weapons use by the regime are not expected before next week when Congress returns from summer recess.

The Israeli Defence Ministry said the test of its Arrow 3 missile system was performed together with the US Defence Department.

"A successful test was held to check our systems," Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said. "We will continue to develop and research and equip the Israeli military with the best systems in the world." There was no White House comment.

Experts said the test had been scheduled weeks ago and was not directly connected to the current tensions in the region.

Uzi Rubin, former head of the Arrow system, said the test was "completely technical. Nothing connected to Syria." He said the "only message" it would send was that Israel has "good missile defence systems."

The missile test came at a time of heightened tensions as Washington weighs sea-launched strikes against Syria. Israel has been increasingly concerned that it could be drawn into Syria's brutal civil war.

It also served as a reminder to Syria and its patron, Iran, that Israel is pressing forward with development of a "multi-layered" missile-defence system. Both Syria and Iran, and their Lebanese ally Hezbollah, possess vast arsenals of rockets and missiles.

Meanwhile in Syria, regime troops recaptured the town of Ariha, a busy commercial center in the restive northern province of Idlib following days of heavy bombardment, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Ariha has changed hands several times in the past two years. Rebels had succeeded in wrestling it from government control late last month.

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