DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 9, 2014
The Israeli government has radically changed tack on Syria, reversing a policy and military strategy that were long geared to opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad, debkafile reports exclusively. This reversal was prompted by the increasing preponderance of radical Islamists among the Syrian rebels fighting Assad’s army in the Quneitra area. It calls for a delicate balancing act. While loath to see Assad winning the Syrian war, Israel has no desire to have Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Al Nusra, sitting just across the Golan border in control of Quneitra.
Syria forces ranged for major counteroffensive to dislodge rebels from Quneitra. High tension on Golan
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 3, 2014
Soldiers of the Syrian army’s 7th Division and tanks were poised Wednesday, Sept. 3 for an imminent all-out offensive against rebels holding parts of Quneitra, debkafile reports. The Syrians may move their tanks into the battle zone, in defiance of Israel’s caution via the UN that they would be infringing ceasefire agreements and incur IDF counteraction. Damascus counts on Israel being deterred from striking Syrian forces fighting Syrian Islamists after the wave of revulsion from the beheading of the Jewish American journalist Steven Sotloff by Iraqi Islamists.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 31, 2014
debkafile reports exclusively that the UAV an Israeli Patriot battery shot down Sunday Aug. 31 over Quneitra on the Golan was launched by Hizballah – not Syria as reported. The Iran-made Ababail 2 was on a photography and intelligence-gathering mission over the Golan battleground, where the Syrian army and rebels are fighting over the Quneitra crossing. It is estimated that Hizballah was not planning to join the battle, but rather concerned in case the rebels beat back Syrian troops and broke through from northern Golan to Mt. Hermon and southern Lebanon.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 30, 2014
US Secretary of State John Kerry called Saturday, Aug. 30 for a “coalition of nations… to stamp out the disease of the Islamic state group,” following President Barack Obama highly-criticized denial of a strategy for “dealing with Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.” The British premier revealed that Al Qaeda carried out the attack on the Jewish museum of Brussels. World leaders wax eloquent on the Islamist peril, but prefer to fight it at leisure through “allies” and “coalitions.” Israel too avoided reacting to the abduction of 43 UN observers at its Golan back door.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis August 28, 2014
The battle for Quneitra has no real military importance for the Syrian conflict at large, says debkafile. The Syrian army, helped by Iran and Hizballah, is winning and the rebel side crumbling. However, integrated in the rebel contingents fighting for Quneitra, with US, Israeli and Jordanian backing, are Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front fighters and its Sinai arm, Ansar Beit Al-Madis, which works hand in glove with Israel’s foe, the Palestinian Hamas. When a black Al Qaeda flag flies over Quneitra 200 m from its Golan border, Israel will face a new dilemma.
Israel struck nine Syrian targets in response to boy’s death, and as a boost for the rebel bid for Quneitra
DEBKAfile Special Report June 23, 2014
Israel carried out nine strikes against Syrian military targets after midnight Monday, June 23, in retaliation for a Kornet rocket attack which killed an Israeli boy, and injured two others a few hours earlier. They were conducted by air and by Spike NLOS anti-tank missiles (Tamuz), against the Syrian 90th Brigade command center in Quneitra and three battalions. The IDF Spokesman said this was in response for ongoing cross-border aggression. debkafile: It was also an opportunity to help Syrian rebels break their standoff with Syria forces in the battle for Quneitra.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 5, 2014
A small Hizballah force took up position Thursday, June 5, on the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing directly opposite the IDF’s Golan deployment, debkafile reports exclusively. This was the first known instance of a Hizballah unit setting foot on the Golan. Intelligence observers reckon it may be the vanguard for a sizeable force on the way to break the stalemate reached by the Syrian army and rebels in their month-long battle for the town of Quneitra. Assad and Hizballah’s Nasrallah attach high strategic importance to keeping the town under Damascus control.
DEBKAfile Special Report May 26, 2014
Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah in his latest speech Sunday night, May 25, accused the IDF in unusual detail of providing anti-Assad rebels fighting in South Syria and Golan with added firepower. A Western military source told debkafile: “When the senior strategist of a military group shows off his intelligence, that is a declaration of war.” Nasrallah also accused Israel of violent incursions into southern Lebanon, saying, “Until now we haven’t reacted.” But next time “we’ll hit back at once.” Israel’s military chiefs treat this as a Hizballah threat of a dual-front war from Lebanon and Syria.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 22, 2014
The US backs local Syrian militias in effort to take south Syria and establish intelligence on the ground, but Assad is countering key bid for Quneitra.
US assigns 13,000 servicemen to first ever combined US-Jordan-Israeli exercise. Hizballah heads for Golan
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 21, 2014
For two conjoined military exercises with Israel (Juniper Cobra) and Jordan (Eager Lion), the US has moved more than 6,000 Marines to the kingdom and several thousand servicemen to Israel. The Jordanian drill lasts from Sunday, May 25 to June 8. The US-Israeli exercise began this week with another 6,000 combat personnel arriving from the US European Command and 1,000 airmen to operate missile defense systems. Wednesday, May 21, border tensions shot up on the news of large Hizballah military contingents on the move toward southern Syria.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 15, 2014
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Israel Wednesday May 14 for talks with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon from an inspection of the US-Jordanian underground command center located 10 kilometers north of Amman, debkafile reports. It was the first visit by a high-ranking US official to a US military facility directly involved in the Syrian war. His talks in Jordan and Israel will determine whether the US-backed rebel forces engaged in battle for control of the Golan town of Quneitra, open a new southern front against Bashar Assad and threaten Damascus.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 13, 2014
Nine Syrian rebel militias are advancing on the main Syrian Golan town of Quneitra (pop: 20,000) to wrest from the Syrian army its last Golan foothold with access to the Israeli border. The first objective of their Operation “Levant of the Prophet” is to seize the Quneitra-Ein Zivan crossing, before targeting Quneitra the town. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who visited the Golan Tuesday, May 13, said, “Syrian rebels have pushed Assad’s military into a corner.” debkafile: Quneitra’s fall would free the Golan and S. Syria of the presence of Assad’s army and Hizballah.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 10, 2014
Assad moves fast to extend his military dominance over the south after discovering rebels backed by the US, Israel and Jordan taking over borderlands including the Golan.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 9, 2014
The Syrian army’s 90th Brigade’s loss of the forward Tel Al-Ahmar Golan position to rebel forces including al Qaeda’s Nusra Front was Bashar Assad’s most humiliating military setback in the past year. Situated on the Israeli border, that position commands the Golan town of Quneitra opposite the Israeli army. Determined to recover it, Assad has mustered a Syrian-Hizballah-Iraqi Shiite expeditionary force. Israel will have to decide how to deal with violations of the Golan demilitarized zone if the Syrian army uses heavy armor and mounts air strikes against the rebels.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 20, 2014
The presumption is gaining ground in Israel that the bombing attack on an Israeli Golan position Tuesday, March 18, injuring four paratroops, may not have been the work of Hizballah, but of al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–ISIS, which is revealed now to have to have infiltrated the Syrian Golan. debkafile reports two more disturbing developments: ISIS Sinai cells are plotting a big coordinated operation against Egypt and Israel; and Syrian military intelligence is arming and funding Iraqi al Qaeda – both to crush the Nusra front and hit Israel on the Golan.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis March 19, 2014
That Israel has no answer for attacks from Syrian territory was apparent from its response to the bombing Tuesday, March 18 of the Golan Post 104, which injured four paratroopers – one seriously - the fourth such attack this month. Artillery and rockets were directed at a Syrian army post near Quneitra followed by air strikes. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon held the Assad regime responsible.debkafile: Holding a sovereign state responsible for terrorist action from its soil never worked in Gaza and will only lead to a war of attrition in the north.
DEBKAfile Special Report March 5, 2014
Hizballah is bent on making Israel’s northern borders active warfronts. Early Wednesday, March 5, an Israeli patrol fired on a group planting a roadside bomb at the Syrian-Israeli border fence near Merom Hagolan, Five days ago, Hizballah launched two rockets against an IDF Golan outpost. Due warning of the coming escalation came from Bashar Assad's communications adviser Bouthaina Shaaban in an interview March 3 to Hizballah's mouthpiece, the al-Mayadeen news network. debkafile: This action would not have been approved without Tehran’s say-so.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 23, 2014
The US has set up a new rebel command center at Quneitra near Israeli lines on the Golan. Its officers are indigenous Bedouin Al Nuaim tribesmen, defectors from the Syrian army, and Free Syrian Army survivors. Last week, Assad’s forces ambushed Syrian rebels trained in Jordan as they crossed into Syria. Over this weekend, his troops moved in on the environs of Quneitra and captured two villages. debkafile: There is still a long way to go before a force is ready to fight for a border strip in southern Syria under US-Israeli-Jordanian control.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 20, 2014
The Obama administration reverts to its former plan for a US-backed Syrian enclave in South Lebanon as a lever for influence in Damascus, to be achieved with Israeli, Saudi and Jordanian help.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 19, 2014
Israel’s top leaders marked the second round of nuclear talks between the Six Powers and Iran with a visit Tuesday, Feb. 18, to injured Syrians at the IDF field hospital in central Golan. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “I would like to tell the world today that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character…” debkafile: The IDF has thrown up a new dual bulwark on both sides of the Syrian border, including the new Bashan territorial division complete with a high-tech combat intelligence collection battalion.