Syria has not actually delivered Scud missiles, A or SS-1B, to the Hizballah in Lebanon – only positioned them on the border ready for transit at a moment's notice – and taught two Hizballah brigades how to use them, debkafile's military sources report in the wake of a flurry of press reports, according to which these ground missiles have already been smuggled into Lebanon in violation of UN resolutions.
Israel has warned Damascus via Washington that their crossover into Lebanon would bring forth Israeli military action to destroy the missiles and their bases on both sides of the border.
Our sources add that Syria engineered the reports originating in the Kuwait Al Rai al Yaam in order to show Israel up to the American and Middle East public as unable to follow through on its warnings and just a paper tiger.
Israel is especially sensitive to the prospect of Scud missiles in the hands of Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hizballah, for two reasons:
1. Their range is 700 km, more than double the 300 km-range generally reported. What they lack in precision, they more than make up for in the distance of their reach; they would enable Hizballah for the first time to hit the big Israeli air bases in the southern Negev, twice as far from the Lebanese border as Tel Aviv.
2. The Scud A or SS-1B are self-propelled, and therefore highly mobile and maneuverable and requiring relatively small teams and few vehicles for their operation. This would render their Hizballah operators less susceptible to Israel air attack.
When in the second half of March, the Obama learned of Syria's preparations to arm Hizballah with these Scuds, the White House sent John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to intercede with President Bashar Assad. At their meeting in Damascus on April 1, Assad denied the missiles had been smuggled into Lebanon, but he kept to himself the information that they were poised on the border for transfer and that two Hizballah brigades had been trained to fire them.
In consequence, Robert Ford, named as first US ambassador to Damascus in five years, was told to wait before taking up his post and the Senate procedure for his confirmation delayed.
On Tuesday, April 13, Sen. Kerry's spokesman said: "These weapons transfers must stop in order to promote regional stability and security."
Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak said the Scuds, if they were delivered, "would alter the balance of strength in the region and threaten its stability and calm." He said the military build-up in Lebanon "is a clear violation of Security Council resolutions."
Barak made it clear that Israel has "no belligerent intentions" towards Lebanon, adding: "We recommend that everyone maintain the calm."