debkafile Exclusive: Syria holds back full-scale war with Israel as last resort while its proxies win low-intensity conflicts in Lebanon and Gaza

Israeli ministers holding a cabinet session Wednesday, June 6, are divided over the mixed war and peace signals coming from Damascus. debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources report that Syrian ruler Bashar Assad’s war intentions and methods are easy enough to read in Lebanon and Gaza, where Damascus launched proxy offensives on the same day, May 15.
The pro-Western Fouad Siniora in Beirut has abruptly called off his army’s efforts to crush Damascus-backed uprisings in the Palestinian refugee camps of Nahar al-Bared in the north and Ain Hilwa in the south. Lebanese troops failed to break through despite military assistance from the US and friendly Arabs governments. Therefore, Fatah al-Islam and the pro-Syrian Palestinian Fronts headed by Ahmad Jibril and Naif Hawatme have come out on top. Assad has pulled off a signal victory in Lebanon.
In Gaza, Israel’s half-hearted aerial strikes did nothing to snuff out the missile offensive Hamas and its Syrian and Iranian patrons launched three weeks ago, the same day as the Palestinian uprising in Lebanon. The missiles fly at a slower pace but the initiative for resuming them to the 20-per-day level rests with Hamas. Its ceasefire proposal reads like a dictated Israeli capitulation plan. Here, too, the Syrian proxy tactic is working well.
Bashar Assad is likely to maintain this local war pressure while deploying his surrogates in additional targeted zones. The UN force in southern Lebanon is in his sights. A bomb planted at a beach house resort popular with international peacekeepers near Tyre was safely defused Wednesday, June 6. The next one may strike home.
During the summer months, the Golan can expect to be targeted by “Golan Liberation Fronts” fashioned in Damascus out of Syrian and Palestinian “resistance fighters” (terrorists). They will find succor and sanctuary in the Druze villages of the territory for harassing Israeli civilian locations, military positions and roads.
This will go on until Israel is goaded into striking back against targets inside Syria. At that point, Damascus will fire up Hizballah for action against Israel from the Lebanese border, just as it activates the Palestinians in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The Syrian army will meanwhile stand ready for the final confrontation with Israel.
The Assad regime is getting away with this low-intensity combat tactic for waging war through proxies on Israel, the Lebanese government and the Palestinian Authority headed by the Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, with little risk to itself. No one is raising a finger to scotch this war of attrition, even though it is building up step by step to the next full-scale Middle East conflict.

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