IDF wary of possible war with Syria

Assesses battle would be 10 times worse than summer's conflict with Hizbullah.

syrian troops 298.88 AP (photo credit: AP [file])
syrian troops 298.88 AP
(photo credit: AP [file])
Predicting that war with Syria could erupt if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not begin peace negotiations with Damascus, the latest IDF assessment also states that such a conflict would be "at least 10 times worse" than last summer's conflict with Hizbullah. Military Intelligence is also identifying and pinpointing targets for the IDF in the event that a strike is launched against Iran's nuclear facilities.
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  • Rubin: Getting serious about Syria MI recently established a new division to translate intelligence into concrete targets and information that can be used by units in the field. The new division is headed by Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, a former commander of the General Staff's Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal.) The Israel Air Force has its own department that is responsible for processing intelligence and identifying targets. According to IDF assessments, Syria is not interested in an armed confrontation, but has stepped up its preparations for war since last year's Israel-Hizbullah conflict. Due to the lack of communication between the two countries, the IDF assessment is that a war could erupt sometime in the coming year if a diplomatic resolution is not reached first. If war breaks out, the IDF believes Syria would fire thousands of long- and short-range missiles at Israeli cities. The assumption is that a war with Syria would erupt due to a "miscalculation" along the border, in the form of a terrorist attack that escalates into a larger conflict. Syria has come to believe that the United States will attack Iran this summer, and that as a result, Israel will once more go to war with Hizbullah. If that happens, Syria believes Israel will not confine its operations to Lebanon, but will also strike Syrian targets. Syria has transferred several hundred medium-range missiles to Hizbullah, The Jerusalem Post has learned, which has completely replenished its weapon supplies, exhausted during last summer's war. The missiles include 220-mm. and 302-mm. Katyusha rockets that have ranges of up to 60 kilometers. The IDF suspects that Hizbullah may have received more advanced Iranian and Syrian missiles, with the assumption being that any weapon small enough to fit into a standard 12-meter shipping container has been sent to the guerrilla group by the two countries. Turning to Iran, the assumption is that Teheran will continue to advance with its nuclear program, in defiance of United Nations-imposed sanctions and resolutions. According to the most pessimistic estimates in the defense establishment, Iran will obtain a nuclear bomb by mid-2009, although the chances of this happening are seen as slim and it is more likely that the Islamic Republic will only succeed in manufacturing a nuclear device in 2010 or 2011. The IDF believes that within the next six months, Iran will cross the technological threshold, obtaining independent research and development capabilities and mastering the technology needed to enrich uranium. According to the IDF assessment, a military strike could cause enough damage to dramatically set back Iran's nuclear program. The Iranian regime is believed to be strong and Israel does not believe that it can currently be toppled. Concerning Hizbullah, Israel says the IDF killed some 600 gunmen during the war last summer, a tenth of the group's armed men. The guerrilla group is having trouble recruiting new guerrillas into its ranks, according to the IDF. The growing assumption in the IDF is that Hizbullah is not currently interested in another round of fighting with Israel and that it is rehabilitating its damaged infrastructure. The assumption is that Hizbullah will recover by mid-2008 and might renew attacks against Israel. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah remains a target for the IDF, although the assumption within the defense establishment is that the guerrilla group would respond harshly if he were killed.