Russia has established and operated an advanced intelligence listening post along the Israeli-Syrian frontier.

Israeli security sources said Russia has installed advanced equipment for signals intelligence collection in Syria’s Golan Heights. The sources said the intelligence-gathering station was intercepting Israeli telephone and cellular traffic as well as e-mail and faxes.

“This is one of the most advanced facilities in the world and clearly shows that Russia has taken sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict,” an Israeli source said.

The sources said the listening station began full operations in wake of the Israeli-Hizbullah war in Lebanon in mid-2006. They said Russian Army operators were manning the station and collecting and analyzing intelligence from Israel.

“We have to face the fact that Russia has guaranteed the safety and stability of Syria while it engages in terrorism,” an Israeli official said. “We have raised this with the Russians and they keep saying that everything they are doing in Syria is defensive.”

The sources said the listening station sought to monitor military movement and communications in northern Israel. They said the facility was part of Moscow’s pledge to bolster Syria’s military capabilities in exchange for Russian Navy access to the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartous.

“The station includes Russian intelligence officers and the data collected goes to Syria and Russia,” Israel’s Channel 2 television reported on Thursday. “The information has also been relayed to Hizbullah.”

Over the last five years, Russia has sold Syria AT-14 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles, with some of the systems transferred to Hizbullah. The sources said Syria has also received an undetermined number of SA-18 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft systems.

The sources said Iran has also established intelligence-gathering posts in Syria. They assessed that Iran and Russia were cooperating in the effort to bolster the anti-aircraft, anti-tank and intelligence capabilities of the Syrian military.

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