Assad regime loyalist military forces have been under siege in the border area near Israel for many months, and attempts by the Syrian army to reverse rebel victories in the region have so far been a failure.
According to assessments by IDF Northern Command, the Syrian army controls just two locations along the border with Israel – the town of Quneitra and the Druse region of Khader – with all remaining border areas under the control of a myriad of rebel groups, which include radical jihadi organizations like Nusra Front.
Fierce battles have been raging at Tel Kudna, near the central Golan Heights, with inconclusive results thus far, according to army sources in northern Israel.
The IDF watches closely as rebels and Syrian army forces attack one another every day. It continues to make preparations for the day when jihadi gunmen turn their sights southward, toward the Israeli border.
“The pastoral scenery of the Golan Heights, awash with basalt and flowing streams, can change in a momentary bang to a battlefield of blood, fire and plumes of smoke,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz warned last October, in reference to the unstable and unpredictable nature of the Syrian border region, and the increase in terror groups in the area, including al-Qaida-affiliated groups, and Hezbollah, which sent units from Lebanon to fight for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
As part of the military’s preparations, the IDF created the 210th territorial Bashan Division and deployed it to the border in recent months, in order to boost frontier security.
The division will help coordinate swifter military responses to border incidents, so that the IDF can direct firepower at threats from the air and ground.
Senior military sources said earlier this year that the division’s enhanced capabilities will make the border with Syria more stable, due to its ability to prevent, or quickly respond to and contain, security incidents. This, in turn, decreases the chances of a border attack spiraling out of control and developing into a wider conflict.
Firepower and intelligence will be the main focuses of the division.
This, in turn, will be enhanced by air defense systems like Iron Dome and the David’s Sling on the Israeli side of the border.
Syria will likely never recover from this civil war, and no one knows with certainty what the future holds for that country. Radical jihadi forces will likely grow stronger in the border area, according to Israeli assessments. They are being carefully tracked by a large division within Military Intelligence.
Additional border security enhancements include a recently created Combat Intelligence Collection battalion that is now active along the Syrian border, and a new, missile-proof security fence, complete with electro-optic surveillance means and radars sensitive to human movement.
At some point, the storm raging in Syria is expected to send lightning bolts in Israel’s direction, and when that day comes, the IDF plans to be ready to respond.