Thursday, December 23, 2010
Iranian Guards to upgrade Hizballah fortifications in Lebanon
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 23, 2010
After studying Israel's last military exercise near the Syrian-Lebanese border last week, Tehran transferred a team of Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Special Engineers from Syria to Lebanon for recommendations on how its lessons should be applied to Hizballah's war array, debkafile's exclusive military and intelligence sources report. The Iranian military command in Damascus, together with the Al Qods commander of Hizballah forces, Gen. Hossein Mahadavi, last week approved the assignment of 20-30 IRGC engineering officers from Syria to Lebanon. A convoy of buses under Hizballah guard transported the team through Ramat Zahrani to one of the larger Hizballah bases. Road access to the base was closed to civilian traffic over the weekend and security redoubled. A military movement on this scale must have been approved by the highest regime level in Damascus.
Last week, Israel carried out a large military exercise near the confluence of the Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese borders on the Golan simulating an IDF infantry and armored forces drive into Lebanon in the event of the Lebanese Hizballah going to war for the third time.
Western intelligence report that the Iranian military engineering team is now examining Hizballah outposts and defense lines opposite Israel to determine whether they are capable of withstanding IDF air, missile, armored and commando attacks or need upgrading.
According to our military sources, a group of at least five Iranian officers was sighted Monday, Dec. 20, entering Hizballah military installations in the Bint Jbail and Maroun a-Ras areas of the South. They arrived in a vehicle closely guarded by Hizballah militiamen and a Lebanese Army detail.
It was the first time that Lebanese troops had openly acted in association with Iranian Revolutionary Guards personnel.
Although the UNIFIL force's mission in South Lebanon is to block the entry of foreign combatants and weapons, its commanders have bowed to Hizballah dictates which deny them access to Hizballah facilities and Shiite villages under its control and the authority to stop convoys escorted by the Lebanese army. Indeed, every step taken by the international peacekeepers requires permission from the Lebanese government and army which then defer to Hizballah.
Since their arrival, Iranian officers have been seen travelling every morning from the Hizballah bases hosting them to its main line of fortifications. That line runs from Ramat Zahrani near Qlaia and Khiyam and arcs northward past Yahmor and south to Lake Qaroun.to enclose the Beqaa region in the east. It was built at the end of 2008 as a barrier against IDF armored columns crossing the Lebanese and Syrian borders and driving east toward Damascus.
In the light of the Israeli exercise, Iranian experts in groups of two or three are testing the line sector by sector.
Israel only announced the exercise had taken place when it ended Thursday, Dec. 16, but it offered an unusual amount of detail: Taking part were the Nahal (infantry) Brigade and the armored 401st Brigade – both part of the 162nd Division. They practiced invading Lebanon in response to a large-scale Hizballah terrorist incursion into Israel. Also released were details of battlefield tactics, including operations against anti-tank missiles, responses to missile attacks and warding off swarms of Hizballah commandos on motorbikes, a form of assault favored by Revolutionary Guards Special Forces.
Western intelligence sources expect the Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah tacticians who monitored the Israeli war game to introduce adjustments and upgrades to Hizballah's fortifications in the coming weeks, as per the recommendations of the IRGC engineers.
It is safe to assume that the IDF will then study those alterations and make its own adjustments.