Friday, 12 April 2013

Anti-Assad rebels pose threat to Israel-Syrian border: Intel agencies

For close to forty years the Syrian government had deployed at least four army divisions along the eastern border of the Golan Heights. As a result, the Israeli National Police (INP), the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and the intelligence community (such as Mossad) have looked upon the Israel-Syria border to be its safest border, according to a report on Monday from an Israeli security source, Jeffrey Hochman.

With the ongoing rebellion against the Syrian regime’s military, the Assad government is believed to be redeploying two divisions –- over 20,000 soldiers –- from the Golan Heights to Syria's capital of Damascus to help fend off the growing rebel militias.

The rebellion against the Assad regime began in March 2011 in the southern Syrian town of Deraa. Since January, the Jihadi rebel groups have made major territorial gains in the area between Derra and the city of Quneitra, which sits on the border between the Golan Heights and Syria.

Some of the rebel groups possess Jihadi elements from the anti-Assad coalition and they reportedly have been filling "the security vacuum created along the Israeli border by the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, increasing the opportunities for friction and the likelihood of an Israeli military involvement in Syria," according to the International Military Cooperation Department in Israel.

According to Hochman's analysis, "The rebels in Syria are divided into many factions along ethnic, religious, and geographical lines. This factionalism has been one of the major obstacles to forming a coherent, unified alternative to the Assad regime, an alternative which would receive the political support of the non-Sunni groups in Syria and the material support of the United States and the European countries."

Israeli security analysts say that one of the more ominous aspects of the geographical distribution of the anti-Assad groups is that the presence of Jihadi elements is especially pronounced in southwest Syria, right along the Israel-Syria border, and these Islamists despise the Jewish as much as they despise President Assad and the Ba'ath Party, a practitioner of national socialism.

"What is more, the freedom of action of these groups is set to grow as the besieged Syrian government has been pulling thousands of soldiers from the border area in order to strengthen the regime’s defenses near and around Damascus," notes the MSIS officials.

The Israeli military has been reporting that Islamic terrorist groups have been observed moving into the vacuum left by the withdrawal of the Syrian military. The fear is that at least some of the rebels will now use their freedom to stage attacks against Israel.

Another senior Israeli official said: “It’s clear that the United Nations is having very serious problems in meeting its challenges. But Israeli national security figures are very skeptical as to the real utility of international forces in dealing with our security issues. We are very concerned [about the Golan]. As you know, we are building a fence along the border and monitoring matters very closely. We are aware of different actors in close proximity to the border, and we are watching them very closely.”

http://www.examiner.com/article/anti-assad-rebels-pose-threat-to-israel-syrian-border-intel-agencies

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