Two major Mid East escalations: Yemeni rebels fire Scuds at Saudi air base. ISIS warns Syrian rebels
Saudi military sources reported Saturday, June 6, that Patriot air defense batteries had intercepted Scud missiles fired by Yemen Houthi rebels against the kingdom’s largest air base at Khamis al-Mushait in the south west. It is from there that Saudi jets take off to strike the Yemeni rebels. debkafile’s military sources report that the Patriot anti-missile systems, which were activated for the first time, were manned by American teams. This was the first direct US military intervention on the Saudi side of the Yemen conflict.
It was also the first time that Houthi rebels or their allies had fired Scud missile into the oil kingdom. Our sources add that the launch was supervised by Hizballah officers. They were transferred by Tehran to Yemen to ratchet up the conflict – although US, Saudi, Yemeni government and Houthi representatives meeting secretly in Muscat Friday agreed to attend a peace conference in Geneva this month.
Nonetheless, through Friday night and Saturday morning, Houthi forces and allied military units kept on battering at Saudi army and National Guard defense lines, in an effort to break through and seize territory in the kingdom’s southern provinces. The insurgents were evidently grabbing for strategic assets to strengthen their hand at the peace conference.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also juggling his chips on the deteriorating Syrian warfront. In the coming hours, he is widely expected to announce the activation of the mutual defense pact signed between Iran and Syria in 2006, under which each signatory is committed to send military troops if necessary to defend its partner.
Thursday, June 4, Khamenei fired sharp verbal arrows at the Obama administration: “The United States tolerates extremist groups in Syria and Iraq and even helps them in secret,” he charged.
Our military sources add that although various Mid East publications, especially in Lebanon, are reporting that Iran has already sent units in numbers ranging from 7.000 to 15,000 troops to Syria, none have so far landed, except for the Shiite militias brought over at an earlier stage of the Syrian conflict. The expected Khamenei announcement may change this situation.
ISIS was not waiting. Saturday morning, the group issued a warning to the Syrian rebel forces fighting in the south – the Deraa sector of southern Syria near the meeting point of the Jordanian and Israeli borders and the Quneitra sector opposite the Israeli Golan. They were ordered to break off contact with the US Central Command Forward Jordan-CF-J which is located north of Amman, and the IDF operations command center in northern Israel. Any Syrian rebels remaining in contact with the two command centers would be treated as infidels and liable to the extreme penalty of beheading, the group warned.
The impression of ominous events brewing in the regime was rounded off Friday night by an unusual announcement by the Israeli army spokesman that Iron Dome anti-missile batteries had been deployed around towns and other locations in the south, although no reference was made to any fresh rocket attacks expected from the Gaza Strip. debkafile adds: The first batteries were arrayed Thursday night, June 4, at vulnerable points in southern Israel – from the southernmost Port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba to the western Port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean.