Russian S-400s relocated near Turkey. Hizballah shifts units, rockets into Syria
Hizballah has begun depleting line of rockets and fighting units it has facing Israel from the Litani River of South Lebanon and moving them to the Syrian front line at Homs to strengthen Assad’s forces, debkafile's military sources reveal. Hizballah’s forward line against Israel is still in place among the southernmost Shiite villages, but a part of their artillery back-up is gone and, for the first time, Hizballah’s ground-to-ground rockets are moving in an eastward direction into Syria. This is a striking reversal of the usual direction taken by Hizballah hardware which, for years, headed from east to west to reach Lebanon from Iran and Syria.
This step attests to the scope, fury and determination of the Syrian army’s current land and air offensive against the rebels.
It also means that Hizballah has no fear of Israeli retaliation for the infiltration of an Iranian stealth drone from Lebanon into its air space on Saturday, Oct. 6 – even after HIzballah leader Hassan Nasrallah promised more unmanned interlopers would intrude on Israel’s skies.
Tuesday, Oct. 16, America’s UN Ambassador Susan Rice told a Security Council meeting on the Middle East that Nasrallah’s fighters were now part of “Assad’s killing machine.” Hizballah’s leaders, she said, continue to plot with Iran new measures “for propping up a murderous and desperate dictator.”
The Assad regime has found succor in another, more powerful quarter: Moscow has announced the deployment starting Wednesday, Oct. 17, of advanced S-400 interceptor missile batteries in Russia's southern military region opposite Turkey.
Russian military spokesman Col. Igor Gorbul described those missiles as “targeting Turkey” against its involvement in NATO’s missile shield program. He emphasized that the S-400s are capable of destroying all types of airplanes, as well as ultra-stratospheric and ballistic missiles.
debkafile's military sources say that, beside the issue of the NATO missile defense system to which Russia is firmly opposed, Moscow is relaying a double warning to Ankara on two additional scores:
One, that any more interceptions of Syria-bound aircraft coming from Russia after the incident of Oct. 10 would bring forth a Russian military response; and two, that Moscow will not tolerate aerial intrusion in the Syrian conflict by Turkey or any other NATO member. This warning was directed specifically against the imposition of a no-fly zone over Syria which Turkey is in the process of enforcing.
Col. Gorbul said the Russian army would finish relocating the S-400 interceptors in their new positions by the end of the year.