The Middle East Builds up for a Winter War

Middle East barometers this week signaled the gathering of war clouds in the approaching winter. Not only Iran and Israel, but also Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas were marked as participants. More than one source predicted an Israeli assault on Iran's nuclear facilities was on the cards after December. The most explicit were sources close to the French army chief, Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, who met with the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and Israeli's chief of staff Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi in Normandy on Oct. 4.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources add that if Israel does attack, Iran has decided not to use up its small stock of missiles for bombing Tel Aviv, but to leave retaliation to its allies and surrogates. To this end, the arsenals of Syria, Hizballah and Hamas, have been massively built up.

Hizballah's missile and rocket arsenal stands now at 40,000 (compared with 12,000 at the outset of the 2006 Lebanon war) with a much larger complement of medium and long-range missiles than ever before.

Much of this hardware came from Syria, which decided earlier this year to transfer one quarter of its 800 medium and long-range missiles to Lebanon for Hizballah in August and September.

They include:

18 batteries of long-range Artillery Rockets -FROG-7s

Scud-B -SS-1C, R-17 Elbrus

Scud-C -Hwasŏng-6

Scud-D -No-dong 1

SS-21 -Scarab

Zelzal 2, and 3

Hizballah has installed 180 missiles batteries atop the mountains of central Lebanon whence to launch them against Israel's main cities, from Haifa and Tiberias in the north to the southern cities of Beersheba and Dimona, home to Israel's nuclear reactor, and including Tel Aviv in the center.

Damascus would thus leave Hizballah to confront Israel directly while maintaining its own deniability of involvement in the war.

Iran has in the last fortnight been pumping heavy supplies of hardware to Hamas in the Gaza Strip through all its smuggling routes. It includes the 10-meter long, 33-mm Fajr-5, whose range of 75 kilometers brings Tel Aviv within its sights. This rocket can only pass through the smuggling tunnels to Gaza in separate 8-10 sections. To reassemble them, Hizballah technicians have been spirited into the Strip by sea.

To minimize massive retaliation against its population centers, Israel would think seriously of coupling a possible on attack on Iran with pre-emptive strikes against these missile concentrations in Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

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