Jerusalem – The Syrian army is accelerating its preparations for a possible confrontation with Israel this coming summer. The General Staff in Damascus has decided to shorten its annual training program in order to prepare for what Syria perceives as the threat inherent in the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) readiness for a confrontation.

The “training year” of the Syrian army is a regular work plan that is carried out every year at set, known dates. Every training year, the General Staff defines targets for training and the required level. Each such year, a series of training sessions is staged: From the lower levels, through headquarters training, through an armies training session, to a large-scale General Staff training session, part of which is held in cooperation with large troops using live fire.

Parts of the summary exercise, which is usually held in the months October and November, are also presented extensively on Syrian television. This year, it was decided to change the timetable, and adapt it to (what the Syrians consider) the IDF’s preparations for a confrontation in the summer – or conversely, an American offensive against Iran, which would take place in the coming summer months and could drag the Middle East into an overall confrontation.

The training program that was begun in Syria was greatly influenced by the IDF’s activity in Lebanon, and emphases were placed on drawing conclusions from the capabilities that the IDF demonstrated in Lebanon.

High-ranking military sources note that in the maneuvers that the Syrians have carried out so far in 2007, the main emphasis is still placed on holding an enemy advance at bay. This means that the orientation is defensive. According to high-ranking security sources, it is evident that the Syrians are also responding to statements and reports in Israel on the effort being made by the IDF to complete its readiness for a confrontation in the north toward the summer.

In conjunction with accelerating the process of preparing the Syrian army for war, Syria’s security establishment has completed a deal with Russia’s defense industry for purchasing dozens of SA-17 anti-aircraft missile batteries at an approximate cost of $1.5 billion.

The SA-17 missile, which is known as “Grizzly” in NATO, is an advanced version of the SA-6. In the Yom Kippur War, the SA-6 was one of the most lethal missiles with which the IAF had to cope on the Golan and Sinai fronts. This consists of mobile batteries that were originally intended to give protection to large frameworks of ground forces. The SA-17 reaches ranges of up to 50 kilometers and is equipped with advanced tracking and homing systems. As soon as President Putin approves the purchase, Syria will receive an upgrade of its aerial defense – which is already one of the densest in the world today.

Western intelligence sources believe that the deal is being financed mainly by funds coming from Iran, as part of the strategic alliance between the two countries.

U.S. Not Restraining Israel

The Bulletin asked the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv if there was any truth to the report telecast on Sunday on Israel Channel Two and other Israeli government news outlets that the US government prevents Israel from counterattacking in Gaza in response to missile attacks that emanate from Gaza.

The answer from the U.S. Embassy spokesman was that the U.S. government places no restrictions or constraints on the way in which Israel reacts to terror attacks.

This response contrasts with responses received at other times when the U.S. did call for restraint, when the U.S. used diplomatic language which emphasized that “Israel must be aware of the consequences of its action.”

No such language of constraint or restraint was used by the U.S. Embassy yesterday.

The offices of the Israeli prime minister and defense minister would not comment as to why the Israeli army is not killing the Palestinian leaders who openly give orders to shoot missiles at Israel.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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