Posted tagged ‘Russian military’

Syrian/Hizballah troops cross Euphrates to east

September 16, 2017

Syrian/Hizballah troops cross Euphrates to east, DEBKAfile, September 16, 2017

It is worth noting in this regard that, in recent weeks, Israel’s generals and colonels have suddenly dropped references in their discourse to Iran and Hizballah as existential threats.

This may be the time to remind them of an unfortunate precedent. In the months leading up to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel’s leaders brushed aside the Egyptian and Syrian armies as threats to the state’s survival –  only to find defeat at their hands staring the IDF in the face in the early days of that war.

No less dangerous would be a war fought by the Syrian army, Hizballah and Iran, with powerful Russian military support. By establishing a foothold on both banks of the Euphrates River and both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, Iran has taken a step towards pursuing its avowed goal of Israel’s destruction.

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Shortly after the US-led coalition threatened to strike any Syrian Arab Army units if they crossed the Euphrates River, Syrian and Hizballah troops were marching across imported Russian pontoon bridges to reach the river’s eastern bank. By Friday, Sept. 15 they were able to establish a bridgehead there.

The attached photo shows the pontoons being lifted and set in place in a manner which recalls the method by which the IDF  was able to cross the Suez Canal for a landing in Egypt towards the end of the 1973 war.

Throughout the three-day operation, the Syrians and Hizballah worked under the cover of more newly-arrived Russian armaments, the MiG-29SMT (Nato-codenamed “Fulcrum),  whose landing in Syria was announced on Wednesday. This twin-engine jet fighter aircraft is a match for the F-18 in service with the US Air Force as well as the Israeli Air force’s F-15, F-16 and F-16 fighters.

The day the MiG-29s arrived in Syria, British Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, Deputy Commander in Chief of the US-led Coalition in Syria, threatened to strike any units of the SAA if they crossed the Euphrates River.

The crossing operation, as well as deepening Russia’s military involvement in Syrian and Hizballah offensives, is a major boost for Iran’s objectives, with grave strategic implications for the US and Israel.

1. For the Trump administration, it trampled the principle Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin established exactly two years ago, i.e., for eastern Syrian across the Euphrates to be assigned to American military control and the west to the Russians.

2.  US satellites and reconnaissance planes watched the Russian army trucking the pontoons east and saw them being thrown over the river for the crossing. Nonetheless, no orders came from the White House or the Pentagon to make good on the coalition’s threat of a strike and to interfere.

3. Established on the east bank of the Euphrates, Syrian and Hizballah troops are in position to go forward for the operation to capture the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kamal from ISIS. They have moreover opened the way to link up with the Iraqi Population Mobilization Units (PMU), a surrogate of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

4. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that PMU units are already heading for this rendezvous on the Iraqi-Syrian border. This step is tantamount to opening up an Iranian-controlled military corridor between Iraq and Syria by cutting deep into the US-ruled region of eastern Syria.

5.  As recently as Thursday night, Sept. 14, President Donald Trump declared: “We are not going to stand for what they [Iran] are doing “

6.  The US president was not alone in refraining from lifting a finger to stop “what they are doing.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu likewise chose words over deeds. “Israel would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its northern border with Syria,” he reiterated Friday, Sept. 14, on his arrival in New York to address the UN General Assembly and meet Donald Trump.

But already Iran and its pawns were creating an accomplished fact, with massive logistical and military assistance from the Russian army.

It is worth noting in this regard that, in recent weeks, Israel’s generals and colonels have suddenly dropped references in their discourse to Iran and Hizballah as existential threats.

This may be the time to remind them of an unfortunate precedent. In the months leading up to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel’s leaders brushed aside the Egyptian and Syrian armies as threats to the state’s survival –  only to find defeat at their hands staring the IDF in the face in the early days of that war.
No less dangerous would be a war fought by the Syrian army, Hizballah and Iran, with powerful Russian military support. By establishing a foothold on both banks of the Euphrates River and both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, Iran has taken a step towards pursuing its avowed goal of Israel’s destruction.

New US base in S. Syria for tussle over control

June 6, 2017

New US base in S. Syria for tussle over control, DEBKAfile, June 6, 2017

The ingathering of major military forces in this part of Syria is ominous: The deployment of a US forward base in the Syrian Desert, and the arrival of the most senior Iranian and Syrian commanders at the head of elite units augur the approach of a major showdown for control of southeastern Syria and its strategic multiple border assets.

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In readiness for a prospective showdown for control of southeast Syria, US Special Forces have set up a forward base at Al-Zukf in the Syrian Desert, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report. The location is 70km northwest of the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle and the Al Tanf crossing, which is controlled by US, Western allied and Jordanian special forces, together with a US-trained Syrian rebel unit, which calls itself the Revolutionary Commando.

(See the map at the top of this article.)

American sources say the Al Zukf base was set up for two objectives: One is to block the path of the Syrian army-Hizballah armored column, which has been advancing for the past fortnight from Al-Suweida in southeastern Syria toward the Al-Tanf crossing.

The other US objective is to capture the key town of Abu Kamal, a distance of 200km northwest of Al-Tanf, from Islamic State control.

However, the overriding goal of the US advance base is to thwart the Syrian, Hizballah and other pro-Iranian forces from gaining control of 300km of the Syrian-Iraqi border and so being able to open up Tehran’s coveted direct land bridge to the Mediterranean through Iraq.

The US force is not alone in its bid for control of this strategic area. It is getting pretty crowded.

The Syria Army’s 4th armored division rolled this week into the southern Syrian town of Daraa close to the Jordanian border and around 330km west of the new Al-Zukf base. The division moved in with high-grade Russian-made T-90 tanks complete with its high command, headed by Bashar Assad’s younger brother, Gen. Maher al-Assad. The general and staff officers were sighted carrying out inspections of Daraa’s terrain in advance of the resumption of hostilities. Parts of this potential battlefield are no more than 1,000 meters from the Jordanian border.

Our intelligence sources also reported that, this week, further north, al-Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Syrian and Iraqi fronts, crossed into Syria from Iraq along with his operations staff. They joined the Palmyra-based command and control of the Syrian force, which is heading out of the town in two columns for two towns – Deir ez-Zor, which is surrounded by Islamic State forces, and Abu Kamal, which is under ISIS control. Elements of Russian elite forces and Hizballah are fighting along with the Syrian troops.

The ingathering of major military forces in this part of Syria is ominous: The deployment of a US forward base in the Syrian Desert, and the arrival of the most senior Iranian and Syrian commanders at the head of elite units augur the approach of a major showdown for control of southeastern Syria and its strategic multiple border assets.

Hizballah’s trust in Russia – strategic dilemma for Israel

March 19, 2017

Hizballah’s trust in Russia – strategic dilemma for Israel, DEBKAfile, March 18, 2017

Israel is not planning action against Russian forces in Syria, but if the Russian army, whether deliberately or unintentionally, grants Iran and Hizballaha military protection, as they counted on having at T4, Israel would not hesitate to disabuse them.

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Israel finally took a hand in the swiftly moving events looming from Syria over its northern borders by launching multiple air raids against the key northern Syrian air base known as T4 near Palmyra early Friday night March 17.

Those events are spearheaded by the pro-Iranian Hizballlah’s drive to capture the Golan in line with its war of “resistance” on the Jewish state.  This fixation came into sharp focus the day after the air strike in a rare admission by Hizballah of the loss of a commander. He was named Badee Hamiyeh and was described as having been killed “in the southern Syrian region of Quneitra near the Israeli-held Golan Heights.”  This was the first anyone had heard of any recent battle on the Golan.

A week earlier, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and IDF Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Hertzl Halevi showed President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin maps depicting the various military movements ongoing in Syria, with the accent on an armored convoy of several hundred Hizballah troops driving out of their Syrian stronghold of Zabadani towards Mt. Hermon. The convoy was clearing a path by overrunning some 30 Syrian rebel villages on the Hermon slopes, which command the Syrian Golan town of Quneitra and the Israeli border.

This evidence demonstrated that Hizballah had developed a single military stratagem for threatening Israel-held Hermon, ruling central Golan and gearing up for battle to restore the entire Golan area to Syrian sovereignty under Hizballah control.

Netanyahu had hoped that Putin would agree to stop the Hizballah convoy and keep his promise not to let Iran and Hizballah deploy on the Israeli border. However, the Russian leader was unresponsive. Not only were Russian commanders in Syria not instructed to restrain Hizballah, they acted to persuade Syrian rebels on the Hermon and the Golan to surrender to he Lebanese Shiite invaders.

And indeed, as the Hizballah advance continued. Its leader Hassan Nasrallah contrived an equation to justify his assault on the Golan. “They brought ISIS to the Beqaa [Hizballah’s Lebanese stronghold] and so the ‘resistance’ [Hizballah] went to Syria. They wanted this group to reach Beirut, and so, today, we are in Golan.”

Seeing Hizballah on the move unchecked and gearing up for an expeced showdown with Israel, Netanyahu and the IDF decided to take matters in their own hands. They ordered several air force strikes Friday on the relatively remote strategic T4 air base near Palmyra in northeastern Syria and hit several birds with one stone.

DEBKAfile’s military sources describe T4 as the main terminal for Iranian planes to land day by day and unload  war materials for their own forces as well as the Syrian army and Hizballah.This air base also houses Russian attack helicopters and special operations troops, whose presence there was trusted by Tehran and Nasrallah to be an effective shield against Israeli attack.

The IAF air strike Friday proved them wrong.

These developments were the subtext of the video statement by Netanyahu that was broadcast Friday night by Israeli media: “I can assure you that our resolve is firm, as attested to by our actions,” he said. “This is something that everyone should take into account, everyone!.” When he said, “everyone,” he was not just addressing Tehran and Beirut, but Moscow as well.

Israel is not planning action against Russian forces in Syria, but if the Russian army, whether deliberately or unintentionally, grants Iran and Hizballaha military protection, as they counted on having at T4, Israel would not hesitate to disabuse them.

The Kremlin got the message and, a few hours after the Israeli air strikes, Israeli Ambassador Cary Koren was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. There was no official protest, but Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov firmly informed the ambassador that Moscow would not tolerate any further Israeli attacks on Syrian bases where Russian forces were present.

In the course of the raid, Israel’s advanced anti-missile Arrow system made its first operational appearance. IDF chiefs feared that the Syrian anti-air missiles fired against the Israeli jets might fall on a populated location inside Israel and so decided it was necessary to intercept any incoming projectiles.

Israel’s military experts got into an argument, which will no doubt go on for years, over whether Arrow’s first appearance in this situation was a good or a bad move. However, the deafening bang that the IDF wonder weapon inflicted on millions of Israeli ears, within a radius of more than a 150 kilometers from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean, offered an inkling of how much worse it will be in a full-scale conflict.

US & Russia to free Palmyra after Trump sworn in

January 15, 2017

US & Russia to free Palmyra after Trump sworn in, DEBKAfile, January 15, 2017

(What does the Islamic Republic of Iran think about a joint US – Russian military operation against the Islamic State in Syria? — DM)

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Our sources report that the US and Russian armies are already in the process of exploring common ground for their “engagement” from their war-rooms outside Amman: The US Central Command (Forward) and the Russian-Jordanian command center not far away.

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Some of the ambiguity and mystery surrounding the nature of President-elect Donald Trump’s relations with Russia’s Vladimir Putin may disperse after the new US president takes office Thursday, Jan. 20, because one of their first joint military actions is ready to go.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose exclusively that a combined US, Russian, Syrian and Jordanian force is preparing for a major operation to liberate the Syrian heritage town of Palmyra from the Islamic State.

Its capture by this allied force would have important ramifications: It would isolate the ISIS forces dug in in northern and central Syria and disconnect them from the jihadists who control extensive areas in the east and the south, including the Euphrates Valley which runs from Syria to Iraq.

From Palmyra, the key offensive for ousting ISIS from its Syrian capital, Raqqa, would move a sep closer. The Islamic State would also be distanced from directly menacing Jordan’s borders with Syria and Iraq.

This menace came closer last week when ISIS commanders decided to make a grab for the eastern Syrian town of Deir ez-Zour, after they saw Syrian government forces leaving their bases in the town and heading north to Palmyra. Until then, ISIS had occupied part of the strategic town, while keeping the government-held part and the big Syrian air base nearby under siege for the past two years.

The allied operation to liberate Palmyra will be the first joint US-Russian military venture embarked on by the Trump administration. It will be a litmus test for the ability of the new US president and the Russian president to work together.

This was what the president-elect was referring to when he commented last Wednesday, Jan 11: “Russia can help us fight ISIS. If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability.”

The next day, he was publicly contradicted by his nominee for Pentagon chief, Gen. James Mattis, who is no admirer of Putin. But the general went on to add: “I’m all for engagement, but we also have to recognize reality and what Russia is up to.”

Our sources report that the US and Russian armies are already in the process of exploring common ground for their “engagement” from their war-rooms outside Amman: The US Central Command (Forward) and the Russian-Jordanian command center not far away.

Syrian government army officers have arrived in Jordan for the first time since the civil war erupted in 2011, and were housed in the Russian war room. The operation to recover Palmyra is by now in advanced stage of coordination.

Read DEBKA Weekly for more exclusive coverage of US-Russian military collaboration against ISIS as it unfolds after Jan. 20. If you are not yet a DEBKA Weekly subscriber, click here to sign on and catch the coming issue out next Friday, Jan. 21.

New Putin move to win a military base in Libya

November 28, 2016

New Putin move to win a military base in Libya, DEBKAfile, November 28, 2016

General Khalifa Haftar speaks during a news conference at a sports club in Abyar, a small town to the east of Benghazi. May 17, 2014. The self-declared Libyan National Army led by a renegade general told civilians on Saturday to leave parts of Benghazi before it launched a fresh attack on Islamist militants, a day after dozens were killed in the worst clashes in the city for months. Families could be seen packing up and driving away from western districts of the port city where Islamist militants and LNA forces led by retired General Haftar fought for hours on Friday, killing at least 43 people. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY POLITICS)

General Khalifa Haftar speaks during a news conference at a sports club in Abyar, a small town to the east of Benghazi. May 17, 2014.

It is too soon to say whether the Russian leader’s Libya initiative betokens an invitation to the new US president to work together in the Middle East, or he is cashing in on an uncertain transition period between the presidencies to build up a stack of chips ready to face Trump as a rival power.

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Libyan Gen Khalifa Hafter arrived in Moscow Sunday, Nov. 26, with a request for Russian arms and military support for his army. He was welcomed in Moscow, which saw an opening for Russia to gain its first military base in North Africa. According to DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources, President Vladimir Putin began to envision a second Mediterranean base on the coast of Benghazi, twin to Hmeimim in Syria’s Latakia. This one would accommodate Russian naval as well as air units and be located 700km from Europe.

The US-born Hafter, a general in the army of the late Muammar Qaddafi, carries the title of supreme commander of the Libyan army. However, Libya is today riddled with hundreds of militias vying for control. Haftar heads a powerful group that was once backed by the United States. But since refusing to recognize the government established by the UN in Tripoli, he relies mainly on the support of Egypt and some of the Gulf emirates for his eastern Libyan Benghazi stronghold.

Egypt and the UAE provide Hafter’s army with air support from Egyptian bases in the Western Desert. It was their leaders who urged him to accept the Russian invitation to Moscow and bid for military assistance.

This was Hafter’s second trip to Moscow. He was there in June and met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and National Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev. Then, the Kremlin was wary of extending military aid to the maverick Libyan general.  US, Italian and British special forces were at the time pressing a major offensive to drive ISIS out of the key Libyan port of Sirte. However, this offensive has still not achieved its goal.

russianbaseslibya480

Donald Trump’s election as US president is already causing seismic rumbles in the region. Putin is now offering Hafter’s army jet fighters attack helicopters, armored vehicles and assorted missiles as well as air support for fighting the Islamic State.

It is too soon to say whether the Russian leader’s Libya initiative betokens an invitation to the new US president to work together in the Middle East, or he is cashing in on an uncertain transition period between the presidencies to build up a stack of chips ready to face Trump as a rival power.

At all events, Russian planes in Hmeimim are capable of covering the 1,500km distance to Libya, while the Russian carrier Admiral Kusnetzev is anchored not far away, off Syria’s Mediterranean shore. Both are therefore available for operations in support of the Libyan general.

This would be the first time a Russian aircraft carrier went into action in this part of the Mediterranean.

The battles ongoing along the Mediterranean coast his week among the various militias, including Hafter’s army, are in fact a tug-o’-war for control of Libya’s oil fields. Libya’s oil riches are certainly not absent from Putin’s calculations. Moscow’s assistance in helping his Libyan visitor gain the upper hand in this struggle could augur the first Russian stake in the Libyan oil industry.

Ex-CIA Chief’s Comments Reflect ‘What US is Secretly Doing in Syria’

August 11, 2016

Ex-CIA Chief’s Comments Reflect ‘What the US is Secretly Doing in Syria , from Sputnik News, August 10, 2016

(??????????????????????????? — DM)

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who has recently endorsed Hillary Clinton, has caused a firestorm when he said that the United States should covertly kill Russians and Iranians in Syria, with Russian lawmakers denouncing the remarks as “monstrous” and experts saying that he merely confirmed what Washington has secretly been doing.

Vladimir Vasilyev, a senior research fellow at the Moscow-based Institute of US and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, maintained that Morell’s comments should be taken at face value.

This is “what the United States has secretly and surreptitiously been doing and most importantly what Washington will do if Hillary wins presidential election,” he told RIA Novosti. “Russia should understand who it is dealing with. In fact, Moscow could thank Morell for leaking important informationon Washington’s true goals in Syria.”

“Monstrous remarks”

Russian MP Irina Yarovaya, the head of the State Duma Committee for Security, echoed these sentiments, saying that Morell made “monstrous remarks.” He essentially confirmed that Washington is capable of carrying out “covert killings … to pursue its own devastating plans.”

Yarovaya also noted that Morell’s comments point to a hidden agenda in Washington’s counterterrorism activities. “The US State Department must issue a clear statement on the issue. Otherwise, there are grounds to assume that the former CIA deputy director inadvertently revealed an existing top secret CIA plan.”

Morell’s remarks are meant to “fuel tensions between Russia and the US,” Dmitry Gorovtsov, the deputy chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for Security, told RIA Novosti, adding that such rhetoric is unacceptable. He also called Morell’s plan “extremist” and “akin to fascist ideology.”

Morell “does not understand what he is talking about”

First deputy chairman of the defense and security committee in the Federation Council of Russia Franz Klintsevich referred to Morell’s remarks as “absurd.”

“I think that Michael Morell does not understand what he is talking about. Modern surveillance equipment that covers all Syria renders any ‘covert’ killings impossible,” he said. Russia’s cutting edge technologies allow Moscow to determine the name, the date, the place and the goal of any such activity if it took place.

Moreover, Morell’s advice “would automatically lead to an open confrontation between Russia and the US, which the Americans, as far as I understand, do not need,” Klintsevich added.

On Monday, Michael Morell, who served as CIA’s acting director twice, told talk show host Charlie Rose that the US “must make” Russia and Iran “pay a price” in Syria by “covertly” killing their nationals. “You don’t tell the world about it, right? You don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say, ‘we did this.’ Right? But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran,” he added.

Morell also suggested “scaring” Bashar al-Assad by bombing government offices and presidential guard positions, but added that he did not urge to assassinate the Syrian president.

Journalist and political commentator Murtaza Hussain pointed out that the former CIA deputy director championed “efforts that later helped incubate al-Qaeda,” referring to a strategy that the United States employed in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

He also warned that if Morell’s plan is given the green light, it “would entail a massive escalation of American covert military involvement in Syria that would bring the United States much closer to direct confrontation with Russia and Iran.”

Has the IDF hit the Basij forces commander General Naghdi?

July 30, 2016

Has the IDF hit the Basij forces commander General Naghdi? DEBKAfile, July 30, 2016

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Gen. Naghdi’s visit to Quneitra undoubtedly presaged some decisions in Tehran with regard to direct Hizballah-Syrian-Iranian action against Israel.

The Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah agencies accuse Israel of the attack because the say it was executed by two Nimrod anti-tank long-range missiles, manufactured by the Israeli Aerospace Industry, for use by the IDF against armored vehicles, ships, bunkers and troop concentrations.

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Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah sources are intimating that the “Syrian officer” injured on July 26 in Quneitra by Israel’s double Nimrod’ missile shot was none other than Revolutionary Guards Gen. Muhammad Resa Naghdi, head of the paramilitary Organization for the Mobilization of the Oppressed, also known as the Basij, which falls under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The victim was earlier described officially as a Syrian officer.

If he was indeed hurt or killed by an Israeli rocket, Naghdi would become the highest-ranking IRGC general ever hit by the IDF.

On July 27, the semi-official Fars news agency reported that a top Iranian general recently visited the Israeli-Syrian border to tour Quneitra and the Golan demarcation lines between Syria and Israel – the first time the Tehran government had publicized a visit by a senior regime official to the area.

It may be presumed, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources say, that someone at the IDF lookout posts spotted and reported on Gen. Naghdi’s arrival with an entourage in Quneitra on July 26 and saw him inspecting through binoculars the IDF defense positions. He was then quickly identified.

Any decision to go after a high-ranking Iranian would not have been left to local IDF commanders or even OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, but passed straight to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot – especially in this case.

General Naghdi is not just another Iranian general. He heads the more than a million-strong Basij militia, which is a pillar of the ayatollahs regime in Tehran, and the backbone of the Iranian internal security forces which maintain the regime’s total control in every corner of the Islamic Republic.

Gen. Naghdi’s visit to Quneitra undoubtedly presaged some decisions in Tehran with regard to direct Hizballah-Syrian-Iranian action against Israel.

The IDF is holding its silence on reports of his injury, declining as usual to comment on reports by foreign publications.

The Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah agencies accuse Israel of the attack because the say it was executed by two Nimrod anti-tank long-range missiles, manufactured by the Israeli Aerospace Industry, for use by the IDF against armored vehicles, ships, bunkers and troop concentrations..

The missile has a semi-active laser guidance system, and is able to operate day and night. Its flight path can be below the clouds, while its operators far behind use a laser to guide it to target.

The launcher platform, with four missiles, can be installed on a Jeep, weapon-bearing vehicle, Abir, or armored vehicles. In addition, it is possible to send it from CH-53 ‘Yasur’ helicopter.

Israel has acted in the past against the establishment of an Iranian and/or Hizballah military presence on its Golan doorstep. On Jan. 19, 2015, an IDF air strike killed the Iranian Brig. Gen, Mohammad Ali Allahdadi and six Hizballah officers while they were on a tour of inspection near Quneitra.

Thursday, July 28, DEBKAfile ran an exclusive report on rising Israel-Russia tensions centering on southern Syria and the Golan.

For four days since July 25, the Syrian army has been continuously firing artillery batteries – moved close to Israel’s defense lines on the Golan border – in a manner that comes dangerously close to provoking an Israeli response. This carefully orchestrated Syrian campaign goes on around the clock.

It is the first time in the six years of the Syrian war that Bashar Assad has ventured to come near to provoking Israel. But now he appears to be emboldened by his Russian ally.

The IDF is holding its fire for the moment. But Israeli military and government leaders know that the time is near for the IDF to be forced to hit back, especially since it is becoming evident that the Syrian army’s steps ae backed by Russia.

DEBKAfile’s military sources provide details of the Syrian steps:

  • The Syrian army’s 90th and 121nd battalions have been firing their artillery batteries non-stop across a 10km band along the Golan border from Hamadia, north of Quneitra, up to a point facing the Israeli village of Eyn Zivan. (See attacked map).
    This means that the Syrian army has seized the center of buffer zone between Israel and Syria and made it a firing zone.
  • This artillery fire fans out across a radius that comes a few meters short of the Israeli border and the IDF troops stationed there. It then recedes to a distance of 500 to 600 meters and sweeps across the outposts and bases of the Syrian rebel forces believed to be in touch with Israel or in receipt of Israeli medical aid.
  • The new Syrian attack appears to hold a message for Jerusalem: For six years, you supported the rebels against the Assad regime in southern Syria. That’s now over. If you continue, you will come face to face with Syrian fire.
  • Damascus is also cautioning those rebels:  For years, you fought us with Israel at your backs. But no longer. Watch us bring you under direct artillery fire, while the IDF sits on its hands.
  • On July 26, Russian media published an article revealing that Russia had delivered to the Syrian Air Force, advanced SU-24M2 front-line bombers, which is designed for attack on frontlines of battle. Israeli officials were unpleasantly taken aback by the news. Up until now, the Russians and Syrians refrained from deploying air strength in South Syria near the Israeli border. Now the Syrian air force has the means to do so.
  • DEBKAfile military sources report that the SU-24M2, following recent upgrades and modifications in Russian factories, is now capable of dropping smart bombs – ballistic bombs with a guidance system on their tails that enable them to hit targets with precision.This guidance system does not rely on US GPS satellites but rather the equivalent Russian GLONASS system which is linked to a network of 21 Russian satellites and partially encrypted for military usages.
    In addition, the SU-24M2 is equipped with a system that projects the information the pilot needs (flight details and battle details) on the plane’s windshield (head-up display) and on the pilot’s visor.
  • The Russians delivered to the Syrians two of these sophisticated airplanes this week, out of 10 that they will supply soon.

The IDF has concluded that it is only a matter of time before these planes appear in Southern Syria and so generate a new and highly combustible situation on Israel’s northern and northeastern borders.

The Russians are colluding with Damascus to inform Israel that it will no longer be allowed by either to continue backing the rebel forces in southern Syria or sustain the buffer zone which they man.

Israel may pay dear if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot decide to continue to abstain from hitting back at the Syrian fire which is aimed every few hours at the vicinity of IDF posts or the impending arrival of Russian bombers. The price in store would be the weakening of the IDF’s hold on the Golan border.