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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Syria is producing more missiles and preparing its army for possible armed conflict in other ways, but is unlikely to initiate an attack on Israel, head of the Defense Ministry's Political-Military Bureau, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad said Saturday.
In an alliance with Iran, Syria continues to help arm Hizbullah and supports the Palestinian terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Gilad told Israel Radio.
Gilad said Syria was equipping the military with more anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft missiles and producing more rockets.
Noting that Israel has been in the range of Syrian rockets for years, he said: "Any disaster would stem from the fact that the attitude in Damascus is much more violent, and that they (the Syrian leaders) have become enamored with the violent option."
Gilad spoke a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria and Iran to do more to prevent arms smuggling to Lebanon, citing "disturbing reports" from the Lebanese and Israeli governments of alleged violations of the UN arms embargo.
In a report Friday to the Security Council on implementation of the resolution that ended last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah, Ban said the reports "constitute a major impediment to the establishment of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution" that would bring peace to Lebanon.
The report was issued three days after a UN-appointed team said security along the Lebanon-Syria border is insufficient to prevent arms smuggling and Lebanon should quickly establish a mobile force to intercept any flow of weapons.
In the latest report, Ban said Lebanon informed him that on June 6, four trucks were seen by the Lebanese armed forces traveling from Al-Kafeer in Syria to Lebanon, ultimately to an outpost of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian in Jabal al-Maaysara. Each truck carried two vehicles mounted with 40-barrel rocket launchers, he said.
At the same time, he said, Israel claims Syria and Iran are transferring "sophisticated weaponry" across the Lebanon-Syria border every week, including long-range rockets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft defense systems. Israel says this has enabled Hizbullah "to rearm to the same levels as before last year's war or beyond," but has not provided evidence, he said.
Syria "has denied any involvement in effecting breaches of the arms embargo," Ban said.
Nonetheless, the secretary-general said, Syria, Iran and other regional states "have a particular responsibility to ensure that the provisions related to the arms embargo" in the August 2006 resolution that ended the Israeli-Hizbullah conflict are fully respected.
"The Syrian Arab Republic, in particular, has a shared responsibility in controlling its borders with Lebanon ... including in safeguarding against breaches of the arms embargo," Ban said.
He noted Syria's willingness to consider working with European governments on improving border security, and urged Syria "to do more to control its border with Lebanon." He called for a new mechanism to coordinate efforts by Syria, the European Union or the United Nations to improve technical facilities and arrangements along the Lebanon-Syria border.