Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – BEIRUT – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – El Arish – Ramallah – Gaza – Beirut – Damascus/Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – Cairo – Amman – London – Washington; Israel Warns Damascus Syria Will be Attacked When Hezbollah Launches Missiles – Hamas Hits IAF Helicopter with Heavy Machine Gun Fire – Berlin States Threat to Israel is Threat to Germany – Iran Must Cease Nuclear Weapons Program
Night Watch: DAMASCUS – Jerusalem seems to have made it clear to Damascus Syria will be attacked when Hezbollah launches its missiles, even if Hezbollah only attacks from Lebanese territory. The Jerusalem Post/Reuters report Israeli and European diplomats are now making it known the message-warning was conveyed to Damascus in late February, just two weeks after Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah made his speech threatening retaliation against Israel who Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran accuse of assassinating Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh. Of course their accusation is their reason for entering the war against Israel this year and of course Jerusalem knows Hezbollah does not operate independently. An Israeli official explained, “The message was passed around late February, before the last round of fighting in Gaza. It has become clear to us Syria has to understand there is a price for its use of proxy terrorism, especially as Damascus is itself a proxy-the long arm of Iran.” [JPOST]
The Israeli government may be acknowledging there is not much they can do against Iran directly given the distance between Israel and the Persian Gulf, though the IAF (Israel Air Force) may be able to attack Bandar Abbas the headquarters of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards the controllers of al-Qaeda. The Guards have also been training Hezbollah-Hamas in the use of their most powerful and advanced weaponry but Jerusalem knows Syria has many more missiles to launch than Hezbollah in addition to having missile production facilities in the country that are probably the IAF’s first target when hostilities break out. Other than some Guard advisors in the field the “long arm of Iran” will be mostly represented by Iran’s brigade size Rapid Deployment Force, an expendable unit which will be given spectacular publicity Tehran will use to showcase its support for Palestinian people, then expect most of the unit to experience martyrdom.
Knowing the deluded state of mind in Syria’s President Bashar Assad I doubt if his government takes Israel’s warning seriously. Almost the day after the month long war between Hezbollah/Israel ended, August 2006, President Bashar made an impassioned speech in front of Syria’s Parliament in which he stated Hezbollah had just achieved a great victory and therefore it would be easy for Damascus to retake the Golan Heights lost to Israel in 1967. Regular readers of crossfirewar.com know I have always assumed when the IDF launches its offensive across Israel’s northern border against Hezbollah they will of course be inside southern Lebanon heading for the Litani River but with this warning to Syria I now realize Israel may have decided to concentrate on the most powerful enemy on their border-Syria. That of course makes perfect military sense and it would put the most important members of the Islamic Axis of Damascus-Tehran on the defensive immediately. In checking the atlas I realized Damascus is only forty miles northeast of the Golan Heights, just twice the distance of the Litani River. Israel would not try to seize Damascus due to the urban density that would trap any army but the IDF could simply encircle it placing the Syrian government under siege.
There are only five roads that lead in and out of the city plus one railway line; the airport would have been rendered out of action during the first hour of combat. Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah-Beirut cannot allow this to happen but what if they can’t prevent it? They could never recover from the enormous embarrassment of the Syrian capital being cut off. I would not be surprised if Washington sends air support. The heavy, massive fighting I had expected to be in south Lebanon will be in Syria instead and deservedly so. Iran also has more important officials and high level military liaison staff in Damascus than they have in Beirut. Heavy air bombardment and limited ground operations in south Lebanon should be enough to handle Hezbollah and destroy its missile launch and storage facilities. Though against the Palestinian militants in Gaza it will require an invasion that will re-occupy most of the territory. Only a few more units may be needed against militants in the West Bank with the IDF units supported by air.
Gaza – Hamas was able to use the heavy machine guns they captured from Fatah last year to lightly damage an IAF helicopter Friday. Haaretz reports the machine guns are the Russian made KPV-14.5 and were fixed by Hamas to enable them to be now used as anti-aircraft weaponry. Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military wing stated, “This is progress for the resistance. It’s a message to the occupation that our resistance will confront the Zionist war planes, vehicles and soldiers with any means they can get.” [HAARETZ]
Berlin – Fully aware the Iranian threat to Israel is also a threat to the West Berlin is sending German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Israel for a three day visit beginning Sunday in which she is to discuss the common threat and address the Knesset on Tuesday. The Jerusalem Post/AP quoted the Chancellor as saying, “I will raise the issue that a threat facing Israel is also a threat to us. This is particularly the case regarding Iran.” This is an official admission Berlin no longer believes in any negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile production and Berlin helped lead the EU-3 negotiations for three years with London-Paris. Germany now realizes Iran simply used the deceptive negotiations, still conducted by the UN agency in Vienna, to buy more time and produce more weaponry. I suspect Berlin and other governments have known for quite some time Iran has nuclear warheads but for years the West engaged in the false hope somehow a deal could be made and (f)allout war could be avoided. That was a myth Tehran let them entertain. [JPOST]