Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ISIS May Open A Third Front In Lebanon, UN Demands End To Syrian Military Activity In Golan Heights

Below we see two very interesting developments today: 

ISIS May Open A Third Front In Lebanon

[Keep in mind they are nearing a front in Jordan as well, so we may be looking at a 3rd and 4th front]

The signs are that in the coming weeks al Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) will be following through in Lebanon in a bid to sow not only more mayhem and confusion in the Levant but in an effort to put pressure on the Lebanese militant Shia movement Hezbollah to start withdrawing some forces from neighboring Syria, where they have been a key factor in helping President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide of battle against rebels seeking to oust him.

“Spillover” is the description most reporters use for the episodic violence in Lebanon – from cross-border rocket jousting between Hezbollah and Syrian rebels to more than a dozen car bombings that have rocked Lebanon in the past two years. But the three countries are not separate saucepans – they are one boiling cauldron.

The ISIS insurgency in Iraq is already affecting the war in Syria—and may start reshaping the more clandestine struggle in Lebanon.

But now there is an uptick in jihadist activity and the Lebanese are alarmed. The speaker of the country’s dysfunctional parliament, Nabih Berri, sees a connection with the Iraq crisis. “The security situation is dangerous in light of what is happening in Iraq,” he said Tuesday.

Lebanese security agencies have been quick to try to nip what could well be a new bombing spate in the bud. Last week, they raided hotels in Beirut’s Hamra, a predominantly student and artistic district also favored by tourists, and arrested 17 people, releasing all but three later. A Frenchman who was detained told his interrogators he had been recruited by ISIS. And Wednesday, Lebanese authorities arrested in the northern city of Tripoli six members of what they termed a “criminal cell,” including a university professor and two students.
But as fast as the authorities work to avoid becoming a third front, long-suffering Lebanon ultimately is too small, too close to the action, and too friable to hold out for long.  

 The UN Security Council strongly condemned the recent intense fighting between the Syrian government and opposition forces in the Golan Heights and demanded an end to all military activity in the area that has separated Syrian and Israeli forces since 1974.

A resolution unanimously adopted by the council Wednesday echoed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s finding that ongoing military activities in the area of separation “have the potential to escalate tensions” between Israel and Syria, jeopardize the cease-fire between the two countries and pose a risk to civilians and UN personnel.

The resolution extends the UN mission monitoring the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire until December 31.
Early Monday morning, Israeli jets struck nine Syrian military targets on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights —reportedly killing 10 soldiers — in response to a cross-border attack on Sunday on a civilian car which claimed the life of 15-year-old Mohammed Karaka, and wounded three others including the boy’s father, a civilian contractor from the town of Arraba in the Lower Galillee.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said that the main target of the Israeli warplanes was the headquarters of Brigade 90, a unit deployed on the Golan, but other positions were also targeted.

After the air raids, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel held him responsible for areas under his control and would respond “aggressively and harshly against any provocation and violation of our sovereignty.”
However, a senior military official also noted that Israel had no interest in military escalation along its northern borders, as the IDF was focused on an operation in the West Bank aimed at finding three kidnapped Israeli youths and weakening Hamas, which Israel holds responsible for the abduction.

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