Six steps by the Assad regime in the last few days, reported by DEBKAfile’s military sources, point to preparations for a massive Syrian army offensive, backed by Hizballah, pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Iranian Rev Guards officers, for clearing the strong rebel presence out of the Syrian Golan.:
1. The arrival in the Quneitra area of the armored brigades of the 4th Division, which is the elite unit of President Bashar Assad’s armed forces and reserved strictly for battles of the highest strategic importance for the regime.
2. The Syrian brigades came with advanced Russian T-90 tanks that were detached from the Aleppo front in the north. Those tanks will be deployed for the first time just 8km from the Israeli border.
3. Hizballah too has contributed its elite fighting unit, the Radwan Force, which has arrived in Quneitra in the last few days to take part in the coming offensive.
4. Also concentrated there are pro-Iranian Shiite militia forces, under the direct command of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
5. The Syrian president Assad took the unusual step of appointing a senior Druze officer, Brig. Gen. Osama Zhar a-din, as the Golan front’s new commander. The motive behind this is an attempt to drive a wedge between the IDF troops posted on the Israeli Golan and the Druze inhabiting the local villages, while also sowing discord between the Druze serving in Israel’s armed forces and their Jewish brothers-in-arms.
According to our military sources, the current Syrian and allied lineup just across the border from Israel is not deployed this time to attack Israel, but for a clean sweep of all the Syrian rebel forces holding sectors of the Golan-Israeli border.
The pro-Assad forces are expected to weigh in with artillery shelling and heavy aerial bombing to force the local Syrian population of 140,000 to 160,000 to flee. This scenario would confront Israel and the IDF with the possibility of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees clamoring for sanctuary.
6. Our intelligence sources add that Iran, Hizballah and Syria have decided to henceforth hit back at any Israeli air or artillery strikes against a Syrian target on the Golan. This was decided at high-level three-way consultations in Damascus on Sept. 15, two days after Israeli aircraft attacked the headquarters of Syria’s 90th Brigade at al-Shaar, near Quneitra, in reprisal for the Syrian shells that strayed across the border.
Assad informed his allies that he will not put up with any more Israeli attacks on Syrian regional commands.
Syrian government forces have launched a major operation against terrorists in the eastern outskirts of Aleppo.
That ceasefire has been at risk ever since US-led airstrikes struck a Syrian Army position over the weekend, killing 62 servicemen and injuring 100 more. US Central Command has admitted responsibility for the strike, claiming it mistook the Syrian forces for Daesh terrorists. In addition to American fighters, the UK, Australia, and Denmark were also involved in the incident.
South Korea is developing a special military unit capable of unseating the North Korean leader, according to defense ministry officials.
According to UPI, defense minister Han Min-koo told lawmakers during South Korea’s National Assembly that, in order to fend off an invasion from Pyongyang, 500,000 or more full time troops must be maintained. He claimed that the DPRK military has 1.2 million standing troops.
Han was quoted by South Korean news service YTN quoted as saying, "If it becomes clear the enemy intends to use nuclear-tipped missiles, in order to suppress its aims, the concept [of special forces] is to retaliate against key areas that include the North Korean leadership."
Leaders from China, the US and Seoul recently met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to strengthen their alliance against North Korean aggression. "The global community will not be intimidated and will not pull back from our obligations" to address Pyongyang’s "provocative (and) reckless behavior," US Secretary of State John Kerry said.
The US-Russia ceasefire agreement in Syria seemed near collapse late Saturday, when US airstrikes killed dozens of Syrian soldiers “by mistake”. According to US Defense Department officials the strike “appears to be an intelligence failure.”
As it’s been noted by the American Conservative, if we are to assume that this was done by mistake, it is a damaging and embarrassing error. It is even more embarrassing because the strike hit Syrian forces that were fighting ISIS. Because the error effectively benefited ISIS, the strike has provided Syria and Russia with a ready-made story to use as part of their propaganda that ISIS is either backed or created by the US. Coming on the heels of the ceasefire agreement with Moscow, the timing of this incident could not have been worse.
Immediately after this airstrike, Syrian officials announced the end of a seven-day “ceasefire”, without providing any information about its possible extension, Reuters reported. The army accused terrorist groups of having not fulfilled a single paragraph of the agreement reached during the negotiations held by the US State Department and Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and instead took advantage of them.
According to the Swiss Le Temps, Washington has suffered a major loss in credibility, and its attempts to apologize and put forward contradictory versions of the incident are not helping either.
The United States has itself trapped in Syria, with its credibility undermined at every turn and its officials taking a defensive footing in negotiations, the media source notes.
For Russia, the bombing was proof that the United States is unable to coordinate its actions with the opposition, therefore the agreement has little chance to succeed.