debkafile Exclusive: Syria transfers elements of its commando Division 14 to Mt. Hermon north of Golan. Both sides extend fortifications
The redeployment of commando units close to Israeli lines on the slopes of Mt Hermon has raised temperatures in Israel. Military sources comment that these Syrian units, especially trained for cross-border raids, are now in position to make a grab for Israeli territory or a surprise attack on the Israeli army position at the meeting point of the Israel, Syria and Lebanese borders.
To the south, Syrian units are reported by our sources as having moved a large fleet of bulldozers to the Golan. They are busy building another line of fortifications around their “pita” disposition (which forms a flat semicircle like pita) and digging new anti-tank trenches.
The IDF is likewise building fortifications on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, while also deepening and extending protective trenches. A series of ramps has been constructed for the use of tanks.
Some western observers say Israel’s war preparations are more extensive than those of the Syrian army. At the same time, both are taking the utmost care to avoid the slightest move that might be interpreted as crossing the red line between fortifying and posing to spring into action.
The Syrian army has cancelled its summer war game for the first time in 34 years. The IDF opted for the opposite course and stepped up its training exercises on the Golan.
The Syrian step could be seen three ways:
1. As extreme care to avoid precipitating a sharp Israeli response. In recent years, Syrian war games included the live fire of Scud C and Scud D surface missiles from northern Syria to the point in the south where the Syrian-Jordanian and Iraq borders converge. Some of those missiles are capable of carrying chemical warheads. Firing them could rouse Israel to taking extreme steps.
2. Syria’s summer maneuvers were usually accompanied by a reshuffle of commanders. Their cancellation has frozen the next round of appointments, promotions and the introduction of a young generation of officers to the high command. This could be seen as another cautionary measure, or alternatively, reluctance to drop seasoned warhorses in favor of inexperienced officers when a war is impending. In the same way, Israel last week put a reshuffle of its top command on ice.
3. UNDOF, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, which monitors the 1974 accord between Israel and Syria for the disengagement of their forces on the Golan, compliments both armies, reporting that never before have they observed every iota of their 35-year old accord so meticulously.
Regardless of the war tension, the export of apples from Golan to Syria has continued without interruption.