"The Syrian leadership has undertaken emergency preventive and deterrent measures, fearing that Israel will turn the military exercise in the Golan Heights to an attack against Syria," Damascus officials reportedly told the Qatari-based paper Al Wattan, Wednesday. Israel was holding wide scale tank maneuvers in the territory Tuesday. The paper quoted other Syrian officials as saying the IDF maneuvers were not in line with peace overtures Syria has been sending Israel over the past few months. "The risk of such drills lies in the fact that they take place near the ceasefire line with Syria and also because Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi came to supervise them personally," the officials said. Furthermore, a former Syrian advisor to the regime, George Jabour, said there was a connection between the IDF maneuvers and the conflict between Russia and Georgia. Jabour claimed that the American administration might attempt to "heat up" the Golan front as an indirect response to Russia's attack on Georgia. "The exercise is a provocation against Syria's peaceful intentions," Jabour said. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the Al Wattan report. Syria has been sponsored by Russia since the days of the Soviet Empire.