Syria, buoyed by Hizbullah’s success against Israel, has ordered his military to prepare for a regional war with the Jewish state.

The Middle East News Line has confirmed reports from Israeli intelligence sources which assess that Syrian President Bashar Assad has ordered a series of measures meant to bolster the preparedness of his military. The sources cited increased training, exercises, procurement as well as an examination of Israeli ground and air battles in Lebanon in July and August.

“We see signs of a new strategy in the Syrian military based on the lessons from the Hizbullah war,” an intelligence source said. “It could take months until the picture becomes clearer.”

The sources said the Intelligence Corps has detected Syrian activities in the Golan Heights that could mark preparations for another war. They said Syria appeared to be planning to bring people to the Golan to serve as a human shield during any conflict with Israel.

“We think Assad and the Syrian military were very impressed with Hizbullah’s ability to fight from urban areas and our unwillingness to hit civilians,” the source said. “We think the Syrians will adopt this model.”

The sources said Iran has brought a huge amount of weapons and munitions to Syria for delivery to Hizbullah positions in Lebanon. But they said Israeli intelligence has not detected a serious attempt to transport the equipment from Syria to Lebanon. They said Israel Air Force fighter-jets have been patrolling Lebanon in search of weapons convoys from Syria.

Over the last few months, the sources said, Syria has bolstered its air defense network. They said Syria has obtained the first Igla-S SA-18 mobile, short-range surface-to-air missiles from Russia.

The sources termed the Igla-S one of the most advanced anti-aircraft weapons available, and did not rule out that Iran or Syria would transfer batteries to Hizbullah. In 2005, Russia pledged that the Igla-S delivered to Syria would be mounted on vehicles rather than its standard man-portable configuration.

Another assessment by Israeli intelligence was that Syria could form a Hizbullah-type organization that would strike Israeli targets on the Golan. The sources said Syria planned to avoid any responsibility for these attacks, which could be blamed on infiltrators from Lebanon or anti-Assad opponents.

“We see signs of this happening although there have not been any attacks,” the source said. “Right now, everybody is assessing the war, reviewing their requirements and getting ready for the next round.”


Middle East News Line has also confirmed that The Israel Air Force, seeking to replenish stockpiles depleted from the war in Lebanon, has continued its effort to acquire munitions from the United States.

Israeli Military sources said C-130 air transports and state-owned airliners have been shuttling between Israel and the United States to load up with munitions and related equipment. They said the effort began in wake of the 33-day Israel-Hizbullah war in Lebanon, which ended on August 14.

“It’s a non-stop shuttle,” a military source said. “Flights are taking place nearly every day and we’re taking whatever they’re willing to give or sell us.”

The sources said the air force plans to replace its stockpile of air munitions, particularly standard general purpose air bombs. During the war, they said, the air force used so-called dumb bombs stored for more than 30 years.

“They were rusty but they worked,” the source said. “Now, we want new munitions for our stockpile.”

The sources said the U.S. supplies were being delivered from the Dover Air Force base in Dover, Del., located near Washington. They said the Israel Air Force has been obtaining U.S. Air Force surplus bombs and related equipment to prepare for any near-term conflict with Hizbullah or its allies, Iran and Syria.

During the war, the Israel Air Force conducted 15,000 sorties in Lebanon, more than any other conflict in Israel’s history. The sources said the air force depleted its supply of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, which converts general purpose bombs to guided munitions.

The sources said the General Staff was expected to discuss a proposal to renew a strategic production line of air and ground munitions to avoid dependency on the United States during any war. They said such a line had operated until the 1990s, when the Defense Ministry and military agreed that a conventional war was unlikely. The state-owned Israel Military Industries had operated the munitions line.