HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Syrian troops move closer to Israel border: report

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Syrian armed forces appear to be moving closer to the border with
Israel and the military is being strengthened with Iranian help, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.

"The Syrian armed forces are being strengthened in an unprecedented way in recent memory with the help of generous funding from
Iran," wrote Zeev Schiff, the military affairs correspondent for the liberal Haaretz daily.

"The main emphasis of the efforts has been missiles and long-range rockets to compensate for the weak air force," he added.

"It appears that the Syrians have moved forces closer to the border with Israel on the Golan Heights."

Schiff pointed to similar movements prior to a Syrian offensive on the same front during the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War in October 1973.

Reserve general Amos Gilad, an advisor to Defence Minister Amir Peretz, told public radio there was nothing to indicate an imminent Syrian attack but neither did he deny the Haaretz report.

"There is no information indicating that the Syrians are preparing to attack us in the coming months," said Gilad.

"The fact that
Syria is strengthening its military capabilities does not mean we're going to be attacked tomorrow but certainly we need to be prepared," he said.

He denied any comparison between the troop movements reported by Haaretz, and Egyptian and Syrian deployments prior to their two-pronged simultaneous assault on Israel in October 1973.

"There is no danger of war. There is no deployment of forces indicating that Israel would be threatened by an offensive tomorrow," the official said.

Damascus has repeatedly demanded the return of the Golan, a strategic plateau which Israel captured from Syria in the 1976 Arab-Israeli war and unilaterally annexed in 1981. It is now home to more than 15,000 settlers.

Peace talks between Israel and Syria collapsed in 2000, in part because of disputes over the return of the strategic plateau.

The Haaretz report came a day after Israel launched war games on the Golan Heights in what Peretz said was a bid to learn the lessons of last summer's conflict in neighbouring Lebanon.

"Conducting these exercises in this area does not at all mean that they are connected to a possible conflict," the defence minister said on Wednesday.

Iran is Syria's closest ally in the region and both nations are accused by the United States of helping foment the violence in
Iraq and of supporting "terrorist" groups in the region.
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org