In his first briefing on Syria to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s reported Monday that Bashar Assad holds just 40 percent of Syrian territory. DEBKAfile: Close analysis shows Assad in control of the lion’s share of the built-up areas in a country almost half of which is desert. The rebels, in contrast – even if they do occupy four Damascus districts – have not achieved control of a single town. Assad has deliberately relinquished certain areas in order to focus on seizing control of and holding the key regions linking the North, Center and South to Damascus, the capital.
The minister went on to report that both sides of the conflict engage in slaughter on ethnic lines. Israel is anxiously watching to see if Russian does indeed deliver S-300 anti-air missiles to Syria. According to our information, Ya’alon said, delivery is due in 2014. The defense minister reiterated that Israel has no interest in intervening in the Syria conflict – only ascertaining that advanced weapons, missiles or chemical weapons, don’t reach Hizballah.