Daily Archives: May 5, 2013

Israeli air strikes: A warning to Syria’s Assad Israel’s ‘red line’

BBC Diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus

Jonathan Marcus

Israel’s ‘red line’

BBC Diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says Israel’s air strikes against Syrian targets over the past few days are designed to send a powerful signal to Syria about arming its Lebanese allies Hezbollah.

Back in January of this year, Israel struck a weapons convoy that intelligence sources suggest was carrying SA-17 advanced surface-to-air missiles that were to be transferred from Syria to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

That strike was a warning, an effort to dissuade the regime of President Bashar al-Assad from contemplating any similar transfers to his allies in Lebanon.

These latest strikes suggest that this hoped-for deterrent effect has not been achieved. They demonstrate the Israeli Air Force’s ability to hit targets well inside Syria, but they could be the first of many – a regular pattern of attacks that at any moment could risk provoking Syria, along with Hezbollah, into a regional war. The nightmare of a major spill-over of the Syria crisis would have become a reality.

So what is Israel’s concern? While a good share of Israel’s and indeed Washington’s attention is taken up by fears about Syria’s chemical arsenal falling into the wrong hands, these latest air strikes underscore Israel’s equal worry about sophisticated conventional weapons being passed to Hezbollah. This includes sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles, anti-shipping missiles, or accurate long-range ground-to-ground missiles. Such concerns are longstanding.

Some four years ago, the then Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned that it would not tolerate what it called “game-changing” weapons being transferred to Hezbollah.

According to US intelligence sources, the target of the first of these latest Israeli attacks which took place overnight on Thursday was a shipment of ground-to-ground missiles at a warehouse at Damascus airport.

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The missiles, which had been shipped from Iran, according to the sources, were Fateh-110s – a mobile, highly accurate solid-fuelled missiles with the capability of hitting Israel’s main population centres, like Tel Aviv, from southern Lebanon. What’s not clear, American officials admit, is exactly who the missiles were intended for – the Syrian army or Hezbollah. But the airport warehouse is said to have been under the control of personnel from Hezbollah and Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force.

Longer game?

This episode highlights once again the strong triangular relationship between Tehran, Damascus and Hezbollah. Indeed, recent reports hint at Hezbollah’s growing involvement in Syria’s civil war with – according to some sources – hundreds of Hezbollah fighters supporting President Assad on the ground.

Iran, seeing its Syrian ally on the ropes, is clearly eager to bolster Hezbollah’s defences in Lebanon. For his part, President Assad may feel obliged to transfer weaponry to Hezbollah in return for its active assistance. Indeed, the faster the Syrian regime crumbles, the faster the pace of weapons transfers may become.

Such transfers have advantages for Mr Assad as well. He may well be playing a longer game. Should his regime lose ground, he might be forced back into the Alawite heartland on the coast, and Hezbollah’s military infrastructure in Lebanon would become an even more important ally, with much of Syria lost to him. On the other hand, if Mr Assad survives in Damascus, then a strengthened Hezbollah retains a constant threat of escalating the crisis into a regional conflict – something the US and its allies are desperate to avoid.

 Given the scarcity of hard facts, it is difficult to come to definitive conclusions. Some Israeli reports, for example, suggest that the missiles struck at the Damascus warehouse were not Iranian Fateh-110s but the similar, Syrian-manufactured M-600.

What’s even more intriguing is the second of the two Israeli air strikes in the early hours of Sunday morning. The target here was a military complex around Jamraya – an area with headquarters, research facilities and so on. We still do not know the specific target or targets hit, though the flames and explosions would have been visible to many people in Damascus itself. It is perhaps the nature of the target here that contains the real Israeli message to the Syrian president.

This now leaves Mr Assad and his Hezbollah allies in a difficult position. Should they respond in some way? Both see themselves as champions of the resistance against Israel. In the past, Hezbollah has sought to attack Israeli or Jewish targets overseas. Certainly any direct military response from Syria or southern Lebanon risks a much larger confrontation, which both President Assad and the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah would wish to avoid.

But it’s hard to imagine the weapons shipments being halted. Too much is at stake. Depending upon the weather and Israel’s intelligence capabilities, some may still get through.

But the Syrian crisis is entering new territory here. No wonder that experienced Israeli military analysts are already warning of the danger of war, as what promises to be a long hot summer fast approaches. Details remain sketchy, but Israel’s air strikes against Syrian targets over the past few days are designed to send a powerful signal.

While President Barack Obama may be hesitant in acting to implement his “red-line” warning to Damascus over the potential use of chemical weapons, Israel is determined to enforce its own “red-line” relating to the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah.

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Iran ready to train Syrian army: Iran cmdr

fathi20130505130909193Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan

Commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan says Iran is ready to train the Syrian army should Damascus require assistance.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Pourdastan added that the Syrian army has gained experience during years of conflict with the occupying regime of Israel, and has the ability to defend itself with no need for foreign assistance.

“As a Muslim and friendly country, we stand by Syria and if there is need for training, we will provide them with necessary training,” the senior Iranian commander asserted.

He, however, emphasized that Iran would not have “active involvement in their operations.”

Pourdastan’s remarks came as the Syrian state television reported on Sunday that Israel has carried out an airstrike against the Jamraya Research Center, located northwest of the capital, Damascus. The center had been targeted by another Israeli airstrike back in January.

The Sunday attack came shortly after Tel Aviv confirmed that its warplanes had hit another target in Syria on Friday.

 

هل هناك مغزى لتوقيت المناورات العسكريه تبوك 3 بين مصر والسعوديه

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غادر القاهرة صباح السبت عناصر من القوات المسلحة متجهة إلى المملكة العربية السعودية، للمشاركة فى التدريب المصرى السعودى المشترك تبوك 3، الذى تنفذه وحدات من المشاة والمدفعية والمدرعات ووسائل وأسلحة الدفاع الجوى لكلا البلدين، بمشاركة عناصر من الوحدات الخاصة  وقال مصدر عسكري ثانٍ  المناورة ستبدأ في الفترة من 8 إلى 26 مايو الحالي، مشيرًا إلى أنه تم تجهيز القوات والمعدات الثقيلة من دبابات ومجنزرات ومدرعات داخل أسطول بحري كبير

فى الوقت ذاته  كشفت الولايات المتحدة عن مناورات تحت مياه الخليج العربي لمنع نشر ألغام أو اغلاق مضيق هرمز تبدأ اليوم وتشارك فيها أربعون دولة، يأتى ذلك مع تزامن الاعلان عن تطوير قنبلة امريكية خارقة للتحصينات العميقة، في اشارة مباشرة للمنشآت النووية الايرانية المبنية في حضن جبل قريب من قمّ، وايضا الاعلان عن تزويد اسرائيل بطائرات تمويل وقود أمريكية في الجو، وتسريب انباء عن سماح الاردن للطائرات الاسرائيلية باختراق اجوائه وقيام اسرائيل بقصف جوى سافر لدمشق فجر اليوم الاحد

سبب التدخل الاسرائيلى السافر فى سوريا – أمير قطر لأوباما : إذا لم تتدخلوا عسكريا سينتصر الأسد ويبدأ الإنتقام .. خلال شهرين سوف يسحق المعارضة المسلحة

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كشفت أوساط دبلوماسية قطرية في العاصمة البريطانية لندن أن أمير دولة قطر الشيخ حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني الذي زار الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، والتقى الرئيس الأميركي باراك  أوباما الأسبوع الماضي، قد أبلغ الإدارة الأميركية بشكل مُلِحّ أنه يجدر أن تتدخل أميركا فورا بالقوة العسكرية لإسقاط نظام الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، شارحا الأمير القطري لكبار القادة الأميركيين أن معلومات بلاده إستنادا الى قربها من تيارات وتشكيلات المعارضة السورية أن الأسد بدأ يستيعد جغرافيا حساسة جدا كانت قد سيطرت عليها المعارضة، وأنه خلال شهرين على أبعد تقدير فإنه سوف يسحق المعارضة المسلحة، ويعلن الإنتصار، وأن العامل الوحيد الذي يمكن أن يعطل هذا الأمر هو توجيه ضربات صاروخية للقدرات العسكرية لمراكز القيادة والسيطرة العسكرية التابعة للأسد، إذ أبدى أمير قطر تخوفا من أن ينتقل الأسد بعد الإنتصار الى مرحلة الإنتقام السياسي من الدول التي تورطت في مهمة إسقاطه طيلة العامين الماضيين

عاجل : انفجارات تهز دمشق

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التلفزيون السوري | المعلومات تشير إلى أن الإنفجارات في مركز البحوث العلمية في جمرايا بريف دمشق ناجمة عن اعتداء اسرائيلي بالصواريخ

هزت سلسلة انفجارات ضخمة العاصمة السورية دمشق كان أعنفها حسب السكان المحليين خلف جبل قاسيون. وقال التلفزيون السوري ان الانفجارات التي هزت دمشق في جمرايا ناجمة عن قصف صاروخي اسرائيلي. وكانت قناة الاخبارية السورية أعلنت قبل ذلك عن سماع دوي عدة انفجارات قرب منطقة الهامة في دمشق وتحدثت تقارير أخرى عن استهداف مركز البحوث العلمية في جمرايا وقد وقعت التفجيرات في الثالثة فجرا حسب التوقيت المحلي