'Syrian opposition may soon topple Assad'

Top IDF officer says growing signs that Syrian opposition is stabilizing and will topple Assad in coming months.

Assad hung in effigy 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Assad hung in effigy 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
There are growing signs that the Syrian opposition is stabilizing and will succeed in the coming months in toppling President Bashar Assad’s regime, a top IDF officer predicted on Tuesday.
According to the officer, the IDF has learned of the defection of thousands of Syrian soldiers, including dozens of officers, among them a number of high-ranking colonels.
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The officer’s prediction came a day after Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset that Assad was expected to fall in the coming weeks.
The officer said that the IDF was increasingly concerned with the possible fallout from Assad’s downfall and particularly the possibility that Syria’s chemical arsenal would fall into terrorist hands.
There are also concerns that clashes could break out along Israel’s border with Syria in the Golan Heights. The IDF has detected an increase in the number of Syrian troops patrolling the border and recently decided to deploy a battalion nearby to contain a potential isolated attack.
The IDF is also concerned with the presence of global jihad elements in Syria, which it suspects were behind the twin suicide bombings in Damascus last week which killed 44 people.
“It is unclear what role these elements are playing in Syria and their presence is concerning,” the officer said.
Turning to Iran, the IDF believes that Iran will make a decision in the coming years to manufacture a nuclear device.
Currently, Iran is assessed to be on the threshold, which means that it has mastered all of the technology required for a nuclear weapon as well as the fuel cycle process.
“All that is needed now is for the Iranians to make a decision to make the bomb and we predict with high probability that it will happen in the coming years,” the officer said.
The Iranians recently opened the Fordo facility built under a mountain near the city of Qom and are moving centrifuges there which they plan to use to enrich uranium to 20 percent levels, moving closer to the 90% levels required for a nuclear weapon. In addition, the facility can be used to store between 1 and 2 tons of enriched uranium.
“Once they go to the breakout stage [begin enrichment of military-grade uranium Y. K.], it will take between one year to a year-and-a-half to manufacture a nuclear device,” the officer said.
“It will take another couple of years for them to manufacture a number of bombs.”