debkafile reports: Iran’s national security adviser Ali Larijani flies to Damascus aboard special military plane Wednesday night as war tension bui
Larijani is also Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator. He will remain in Damascus for the duration of the crisis in line with the recently Iranian-Syrian mutual defense pact. His presence affirms that an Israeli attack on Syria will be deemed an assault on Iran. It also links the Israeli hostage crisis to Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West.
The White House released a statement holding Syria and Iran responsible for Hizballah abduction and demanding their immediate and unconditional release.
The Syrian army has been put on a state of preparedness.
debkafile‘s military sources add that the Iranian air force, missile units and navy are also on high alert.
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report Hizballah acted on orders from Tehran to open a second front against Israel, partly to ease IDF military pressure on the Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This was in response to an appeal Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal made to the Iranian ambassador to Damascus Mohammad Hassan Akhtari Sunday, July 9.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources report Tehran’s rationale as composed of three parts:
1. Iran shows the flag as a champion and defender of its ally, Hamas.
2. Sending Hizballah to open a warfront against Israel is the logical tactical complement to its latest order to go into action against American and British forces in southern Iraq.
3. Tehran hopes to hijack the agenda before the G-8 summit opening in St. Petersberg, Russia on July 15. Instead of discussing Iran’s nuclear case and the situation in Iraq along the lines set by President George W. Bush, the leaders of the industrial nations will be forced to address the Middle East flare-up
Any Israeli decision taken at prime minister Ehud Olmert’s high level consultation in Jerusalem Wednesday night must take this turn of events into account before deciding on limited air strikes against Hizballah and Lebanese civil targets without delay.
Our sources also report that immediately after Nasrallah’s statement to the media, Hizballah’s leaders went into hiding, their bases were evacuated and their fighting strength transferred to pre-planned places of concealment. Ahead of the abduction, Hizballah ordnance and missile stocks were transferred to the Palestinian Ahmed Jibril’s tunnel system at Naama, 30 km south of Beirut, which was built in the 1980s by East German engineers.
The Israel navy has long tried to smash this coastal underground fortress from the sea without success.
Israel began calling up an armored division, air crews and technicians from the reserves Wednesday night. debkafile‘s military experts: If Israel’s leaders opt for an anti-Hizballah operation on the lines of Operation Summer Rain against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the IDF can expect the same measure of success as it has had in recovering Gilead Shalit and ending the Qassam missiles barrage