Friday, Jan. 22, Damascus ordered a Level 4 mobilization of Syria’s army reserves for deployment to the Golan Heights on the Israeli border, to meet what it calls “IDF plans of attack.” DEBKAfile’s military sources interpret Level 4 as referring to Syrian armored and commando brigades.
In Lebanon, too, Hizballah has placed “all its forces” on a state of military preparedness. Our intelligence sources report that this order applies to the Iranian proxy’s strongholds across southern Lebanon and the Beqaa Valley, but not to its command posts in Beirut and other Lebanese cities.
Damascus and Hizballah both claim that Israel has embarked on a large-scale military exercise along its northern borders to create a jumping-off point for striking Hizballah followed by raids into Syria.
However, Western and Arab sources confirm that Israel made a point of reassuring Damascus and Beirut via American and UN intermediaries at the beginning of this week that the military units massed in the north were engaged solely in maneuvers with no aggressive intent.
Far from being prompted by IDF war games, Syria and Hizballah are reported by our Iranian and military sources as acting out the secret military cooperation pacts they have just concluded with Tehran. The pacts were negotiated and signed during visits to Damascus by Iran’s National Security Adviser Saeed Jalili on Nov. 3 and its defense minister Ahmed Vahidi on Dec. 17.
These treaties commit Syria to come to Hizballah’s aid if it comes under Israeli attack, and all three signatories to respond to any Israeli military movement. Our military sources believe Hizballah and Syria are taking advantage of the Israeli war game to test their own preparedness for attack on orders from Tehran.