Syria has posted the advanced early warning radar it received from Iran – not on its own soil but on the highest peak of neighboring Lebanon, according to debkafile's military and intelligence sources. From Mount Sannine in central Lebanon, the new facility provides early warning against a possible surprise Israeli missile or aerial attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and extends the span of Iranian and Syrian electronic surveillance to include Israeli air space the south and the eastern-central Mediterranean to the west.
Friday, July 2, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley confirmed the Wall Street Journal's disclosure that Iran had transferred the high-tech radar to Syria. He said this move was of concern "due to Syria's relationship with Hizballah," adding "We don't believe that Iran's designs for the region are in Syria's best interest."
According to our sources, there is nothing new in this disclosure. The new radar was deployed on Mt. Sannine ten months ago, complete with Iranian and Syrian radar operators. Hizballah was made responsible for guarding the facility and keeping approach roads clear, as well as bringing supplies to the Iranian-Syrian crews on the mountain. Syria trained the Lebanese Shiite extremists in the use of the anti-air missile batteries for securing the site.
On July 12, 2008, debkafile first revealed that Hizballah had just commandeered the 7,880- foot Mt. Sannine northeast of Beirut at the behest of Tehran and Damascus, followed by Mount Barukh, which is half the height and situated in the Chouf Mountains much closer to South Lebanon (and the Israeli border).
In late 2009, the radar position was put in there and Iranian mobile systems installed on Mt. Barukh – in line with the strategy agreed by Iran and Syria to extend their watch on Israel and the US Sixth Fleet.
Israel's leaders held back from interfering with the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah seizure of these strategic positions across its northern border and the installation of an advanced Iranian radar facility, just as they have since avoided blocking Hizballah's massive armament with smuggled Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles.
Washingtontoo turned a blind eye to this Iranian strategic outpost – until now. It was allowed to leak in the wake of the difficult conversation President Barack Obama had with Saudi King Abdullah at the White House Tuesday, June 29.
He taxed the king with recent reports about Riyadh's willingness to provide an air corridor for Israeli bombers bound for attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities. But Abdullah declined to confirm or deny them and waved the subject aside.
The belated disclosure of the Mt. Sannine facility was directed at the Saudi king, intended to warn him that Iran's early warning electronic station in Lebanon had pre-empted the Israeli option of a surprise attack on its nuclear facilities. Riyadh would therefore be well advised to drop its plan to back an Israeli operation for disposing of their shared Iranian nuclear threat.