According to Middle East sources, Israel’s air strikes Monday, Feb. 24, were far more limited in scope than presented – no more than one or two warplanes which aimed four rockets at a single target, an SS-21 surface missile launcher on the Syrian side. Four Hizballah operatives were killed.
The hectic traffic of arms, men and smuggling networks between Syria and Lebanon, run by Hizballah and the Syrian military, has virtually obliterated large sections of the border between the two countries. A broad military zone has taken its place, which is characterized by lofty peaks 1,600 meters high, deep gulches and narrow winding roads through wild vegetation. Traffic moving along those roads is hard to identify.
Hizballah arms and missile stores in the Lebanese Beqaa Valley are in free use as strategic reserve supply centers for the units – both Hizballah and Syrian – fighting in border sectors such as the battles in the Qalamoun mountain range.
Brig. Gen. Ellie Sharvit, commander of the Navy base in Haifa, touched on this situation Tuesday, when he noted that Israel presumes that any weapons systems reaching Syria have also come into the hands of he Lebanese Hizballah. Israel is therefore on a constant state of alert. He mentioned advanced Yakhont shore-sea missiles as well as top products of Iran’s and Syria’s military industries in this regard.
Brig. Sharvit was the first IDF officer to confirm debkafile’s reporting in the past year that large quantities of weapons were moving between Syria and Lebanon. This traffic is by now by and large out of the IDF’s control – except for pinpointed strikes. Any attempt to seal the border to this illicit traffic would be unrealistic.
Most Israeli military officials are still trying to present President Bashar Assad as losing the Syrian war and Hizballah’s military capabilities as being eroded.
Contrary to this view, our Middle East sources describe the old Lebanese-Syrian border area as having been transformed into the busy hive of a burgeoning international Shiite legion of mercenaries, who are arriving in ever larger numbers from outside the region. Hizballah has opened European recruiting centers for the Syrian war effort in Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania and Kosovo. More than 1,000 mercenaries are already undergoing brief instruction at its Beqaa Valley training facilities. After they are familiarized with the weapons in the use of the Syrian army and Hizballah, they are sent across into battle.