Israel and the US on Tuesday conducted a joint missile test over the Mediterranean Sea, triggering jitters about possible military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The missile test was first reported by Russia's state-run media, adding to worldwide fears of likely US-led action against the embattled Syrian regime over an alleged chemical weapons attack last month which killed more than 1,400 people.
Israel's Defence Ministry later announced it had successfully tested a new version of the Sparrow target missile, which is part of the indigenously developed Arrow anti-missile system.
The US Defence Department confirmed it "provided technical assistance and support" for Israel's missile test. But Pentagon spokesman George Little said the "test had nothing to do with US' consideration of military action to respond" to Syria's alleged chemical weapons attack.
Financial markets around the world initially dived on concerns triggered by the test but later recovered.
President Assad warned that any military attack against his regime would lead to a regional war as US President Barack Obama today said he is confident of getting Congress' authorisation for military intervention in Syria.
Obama, before meeting members of US Congress about a possible military strike, said he believes America's military plan is appropriate, proportional, limited, and "does not involve boots on the ground".
"This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan," he said. He added he was "confident" of getting Congress to pass a resolution authorising a military attack in Syria.
Earlier, in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Assad warned "chaos and extremism will spread" if the US and its Western allies attack Syria.
"Everyone will lose control of the situation once the powder keg explodes...The risk of a regional war exists," he said.
The missile test in the Mediterranean was carried out with the US Missile Defence Agency, the Israeli Defence Ministry said in a statement.
"This is the first flight test of this new version of the Sparrow, and was conducted at an Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea," the statement said.
Before the test, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against any attack on Israel in response to threats from radical elements in West Asia.
"The reality around us is changing. I want to say to anyone who wants to harm us – it is not advisable," Netanyahu said on the margins of an official event in Beersheba.
Analysts believe today's missile test was part of preparations against a possible long-range missile attack on Israel in retaliation to any US-led action against Syria.
The test came at a time of heightened tensions as Washington mulls sea-launched strikes against Syria. Israel has been increasingly concerned that it will be drawn into Syria's civil war that has spilled over into neighbouring countries.
Since the weekend, the Obama administration has been lobbying for congressional support for military action against Syria. The US says it has evidence that Assad's forces launched a chemical weapons attack on civilians near Damascus on August 21.
The US has alleged that the nerve agent sarin was used and that at least 1,429 people were killed, including over 400 children.
Last week, President Barack Obama appeared poised to authorise military strikes, but stepped back to first seek approval from Congress, which returns from recess next week.