SYRIA MASSES 3 ARMY DIVISIONS ALONG LEBANON BORDER BACKED
BY LARGE GROUP IN LEBANON'S BEQAA VALLEY
MARCH 23 2008
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Syrian deployment is backed by the concentration of pro-Syrian Palestinian factions in the Beqaa valley of Lebanon, amid rising war tensions between Hizballah and Israel.
Hassan Nasrallah declared Hizballah would wage “open war” with Israel at the end of the 40-day mourning period the group observed for Imad Mughniyeh who was killed in Damascus February 12. His deputy has maintained that Hizballah had “100 percent solid evidence" that Israel had killed Mughniyeh, which Israel has consistently denied.
Monday, March 24, Nasrallah will address a big memorial rally in South Beirut.
The Israeli army is on high alert for a possible Hizballah attack from Lebanon. The Magen David Adom ambulance service is on emergency standby across the country.
New Iranian surface missiles delivered to Hizballah
Hizballah’s heavy armament will figure large in the talks US
Vice President Dick Cheney is holding with Israeli leaders on the Iranian
nuclear threat. Cheney arrived in Israel Saturday night, March 22, from talks
with Saudi leaders.
DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that Hizballah has built up its rocket arsenal to three and-a-half times its pre-2006 Lebanon War stocks. Some of the 40,000 rockets of Syrian and Iranian manufacture can hit Israel targets as far south as Beersheba, 350 km. away from the Shiite terror group’s launching pads north of Lebanon’s Litani River.
Not only has Tel Aviv come within range, but Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza can between them cover most of Israel except for its southernmost tip at Eilat. Using these two surrogates, Tehran can therefore make war on Israel and keep its hands clean.
And not only Iran. DEBKAfile’s military sources report the lion’s share of rockets smuggled to Hizballah in recent months are Syrian-made. Damascus has also shipped to Hizballah quantities of anti-air weapons, including shoulder-borne rockets and scores of Russian-made anti-aircraft ZSU-100 automatic 14.4 mm caliber cannon, which are most effective against low-flying aircraft, helicopters and drones.
All these issues will be discussed at length mainly during the US Vice President’s session with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak.
On his arrival, Cheney pledged that his government would not pressure Israel to take steps that threatened its security.
"America's commitment to Israel's security is enduring and unshakable, as is Israel's right to protect itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other attacks from forces dedicated to Israel's destruction," Cheney told a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
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