In a candid moment, a Hezbollah special forces commander recently admitted to VOA that, “in some ways, Syria is a dress rehearsal for our next war with Israel.”
The new cadre of fighters Hezbollah is bringing in is also professionalizing what was previously an explicitly guerrilla-oriented organization. The fight for Syria against the nominally Sunni “Takfiri” (apostate) ISIS, has been a gift to the Shia Hezbollah, spurring recruitment efforts. Put simply, Hezbollah is not just getting better at fighting, its army is also getting bigger.Sponsored Ads
Finally, the political fallout from the Obama administration’s often aloof posture toward Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has encouraged Iran and Hezbollah to consolidate political power in Beirut.
The risk of a military confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah has become significantly greater over the past few weeks, an Arab intelligence official told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The recent gains clinched on the Syrian battlefield by Hezbollah and its allies, Bashar al Assad’s army, and Iran, have greatly contributed to the chances of spillover to Israel’s northern border, he said.
“It’s unclear whether it’s just weeks away or more, but intelligence agencies in the region work under the assumption that a new round of violence between Israel and Hezbollah is just a matter of time,” he said. “We believe it will be in the coming year, though it is yet unclear what will be the trigger.”
“The significance is that Hezbollah is liable to strive for a different kind of confrontation: Instead of reacting to an Israeli initiative and standing in the breach, taking the initiative and making a ground offensive and multi-pronged attack on Israeli territory,” he argued.
The officer said that there were signs Hezbollah was weighing trying to shorten the next campaign through ground operations in Israel.
Referring to comments by Hezbollah leadership about “conquering the Galilee,” the officer said Israel should be alert to such declarations although they might “sound arrogant, perhaps unrealistic … they might reflect Hezbollah’s intentions.”
Hezbollah has said it will respond to an alleged air strike by Israel warplanes on one of its bases on the Lebanese border with Syria on Monday.
The militant Shia Islamist movement described the attack as a “blatant assault on Lebanon, and its sovereignty and territory”, al-Manar TV reported.
It would “choose the time and place and the proper way to respond”, it warned.
Israel has not officially confirmed that it carried out the air strike, near the Bekaa Valley village of Janta.
There are worrying reports coming from reliable sources close to Israel indicating that both Israel and the Lebanese Shiite movement, Hezbollah, are getting ready for yet another possible showdown in South Lebanon.
All indicators point in the direction of war, although that would be an extremely costly and foolhardy war for both sides if it ever were to take place. Though that has never stopped either side form going down a road leading to lemming-like politics, the urge to jump over a precipice for no apparent reason.
For the militant group another war while it is still deployed in Syria on the side of the government in the civil war now in its entering its third year, all while Sunni instigators are periodically placing bombs in Shiite dominated sectors in Lebanon would be political suicide.
Are Hezbollah and Israel preparing for the next war? Many believe so, pointing to telltale signs that despite all logic that they should not, still are doing so.
Rubin, who founded and directed the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization, and ran the Arrow program, said that “Iran possess over 400 ballistic missiles that can reach Israel, with warheads of 750 kilograms. Syria possesses 200 to 300” such missiles, having used up part of its arsenal in its civil war, he added.
Syria and Hezbollah have thousands of heavy rockets, and tens of thousands of light rockets, Rubin continued.
“That’s the bad news. The worse news is that these rockets are being turned into smart rockets. The Iranians took the Zilzal 2 and turned it into a guided rocket. The third generation of it contains a homing sensor and a GPS. The Syrians can have this capability too, to create a fully guided M-600 rocket with GPS. Hezbollah probably has these,” he said.
The M-600 carries a 500-kilogram warhead, and a guided version of it would be a devastating weapon, Rubin warned.
U.S. officials believe members of Hezbollah, the militant group backed by Iran, are smuggling advanced guided-missile systems into Lebanon from Syria piece by piece to evade a secretive Israeli air campaign designed to stop them.
The moves illustrate how both Hezbollah and Israel are using Syria’s civil war as cover for what increasingly is seen as a complex and high-stakes race to prepare for another potential conflict—their own—in ways that could alter the region’s military balance.
Some components of a powerful antiship missile system have already been moved to Lebanon, according to previously undisclosed intelligence, while other systems that could target Israeli aircraft, ships and bases are being stored in expanded weapons depots under Hezbollah control in Syria, say current and former U.S. officials.
Hezbollah accused Israel of assassinating one of its top leaders near Beirut Wednesday at a time of soaring sectarian tensions in Lebanon linked to the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
The slain leader, identified as Hassan Hawlo al-Lakiss, was the most senior figure in the Lebanese Shiite movement to be assassinated since Imad Mughniyeh was killed in a Damascus bombing in 2008, which the group also blamed on Israel.
Both men were part of Hezbollah’s secretive top leadership.
IAF warplanes attacked a shipment of advanced missiles that Syria was transferring to Hezbollah, according to Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jareeda. The attack took place on Monday.
An official source in Jerusalem reportedly confirmed the attack took place but did not say where. The missiles were reportedly “long range and accurate” ones.
In late July, IAF jets bombed trucks carrying Syrian missiles bound for Hezbollah’s warehouses in Lebanon, according to Syrian opposition sources.
The bombing reportedly targeted a Syrian military base near the town of Quneitra, not far from the Golan Heights cease-fire line
Terrorism expert Matthew Levitt writes that an increasing number of U.S. prison inmates have tattoos that are pro-Hezbollah or are in Farsi, the language spoken in Iran. The claim is made in Levitt’s new book, Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.
“Law enforcement officials across the Southwest are reporting a rise in imprisoned gang members with Farsi tattoos” and some express loyalty to Hezbollah.
His book includes an eye-opening quote from another official: “You could almost pick your city and you would probably have a [Hezbollah] presence.”
Hezbollah’s business relationship with Mexican drug cartels is seen as a driving force behind the phenomenon.
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