A high-level Hizballah delegation arrived secretly in Tehran Tuesday, April 28, along with the large military group led by Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij, debkafile’s intelligence sources report exclusively. Both are taking part in the four days of military and intelligence consultations with Iranian officials on the war situation in Syria and the steps planned against Israel. According to a senior Gulf intelligence official, “The parties quickly finalized their plans of action against Israel, and the IDF will no doubt face on the Golan a far more active and intense front than they have seen yet.”
The failed attempt Sunday, April 26, by a Druze squad to plant a bomb near an Israeli military border post in northern Golan was just a foretaste of the coming offensive, according to the source.
He found Hizballah’s active participation in the Syrian-Iranian military talks in Tehran entirely natural, in view of the doubling of the Lebanese Shiite organization’s combat troops fighting alongside the Syrian army to roughly 7,000. This figure is over and above the missile, intelligence and logistics units assisting the Syrian war effort now in its fifth year.
debkafile reported earlier that the Syrian rocket-mortar fire on Golan Tuesday was timed for Gen. Freij’s arrival in Tehran to collect his next orders.
The two rockets or mortar shells from Syria which exploded on the Golan at noon Tuesday, April 28, followed by alerts along the Galilee border with Syria, were timed to coincide exactly with the arrival in Tehran of a large Syrian military delegation led by Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij. High on the agenda of his consultations with Iranian leaders was no doubt the explosive situation developing on the Syrian-Israeli border.
Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah are reported by debkafile’s intelligence sources to have held urgent discussions in the last few days on how to react to the two Israeli air strikes reported by Arab media to have been conducted Wednesday, April 22 and Friday, April 24, on their Qalamoun mountain missile bases.
Both needed to hear from Tehran how far they could count on Iranian support in the event of a military showdown with Israel.
Israeli military spokesmen have gone out of their way to play down the risk of any further security deterioration. After the fragments of at least two rockets or mortar shells were discovered Tuesday on the land of Kibbutz Ein Zivan near the border fence opposite Quneitra, military sources tried to calm people by attributing them to “spillover” from the fighting on the Syrian side of the border. The farmers were nonetheless advised to stop work in the apple and cherry orchards, and would not be surprised if the Syrians kept up their cross-border fire to provide “background music” for their defense minister’s discussions in Tehran.
The IDF also omitted mentioning that the squad of four terrorists which tried Sunday, April 26, to plant an explosive device near an Israeli border post in this same area – and was liquidated by the Israeli Air Force – were Druze militiamen, recruited and trained by Hizballah and given their assignment by Syria’s southern intelligence chief, Wafeeq Naser.
debkafile’s military sources calculate that the coming hours may be critical for Israel’s northern front against Syria and Hizballah. If Tehran gives the nod, both are liable to ratchet up their assaults on northern Israel’s Golan and Galilee regions.
They won’t have to wait for Gen. Al-Freij’s return to learn about this decision. The appropriate directives may be flashed directly from Tehran to the Iranian officers based at Syrian staff headquarters in Damascus and serving in the military facilities in southern Syria and opposite the Golan.
Assad may welcome this outlet to vent his frustration as his army licks its wounds from the loss Saturday, April 25, of the strategic town of Jisr al-Shukjhour in the northern Syrian Idlib province, to a coalition of opposition forces calling itself the Army of Conquest. This puts the rebels in position to threaten one of Assad’s most important strongholds, Latakia. The Syrian ruler, if he wants to survive, can’t hope to weather both the Idlib defeat and Israeli air strikes in less than a week, without hitting back.