Saturday, August 19, 2006

Israeli forces hit Baalbek area

From DEBKAfile August 19, 2006, 9:18 AM (GMT+02:00) ...

Friday night, helicopters escorted by warplanes fired rockets at a Hizballah weapons convoy crossing from Syria. This attack was denied by the IDF spokesperson.

A Lebanese army spokesman confirms a claim by Hizballah’s Al Manar TV that early Saturday, an Israeli commando unit was dropped by helicopters at a village 30 km northwest of Baalbek. He reports they landed with two Hummer jeeps, were engaged by Hizballah fighters and evacuated by helicopter.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report the commando raid probably targeted newly filled weapons stores. The spokesman adds that Israeli helicopters first tried to land commandoes during the earlier air attack.

Our sources report that Iran and Syria have used the halt in Israeli attacks since last Monday, Aug. 14, to send over Hizballah fresh weapons supplies including rockets in direct violation of the UN ceasefire and 1701 resolution imposing an arms embargo. No monitoring system is in place on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Also since the truce, a group of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, including generals, has arrived to set up a forward command on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. They have told Hizballah to start reconstituting its southern Nasser Brigade which was damaged by Israeli forces and also serves the group as its short-range rocket unit. During the week, Israel kept Washington abreast of the Iranian-Syrian re-supply operation and was informed the Bush administration would not interfere if the Israeli government decides to destroy the incoming supply vehicles.

Hizballah used the media focus on the Lebanese army’s deployment to unobtrusively transfer the fresh weapons shipments from the Beqaa Valley and Baalbek to the south. It is feared that the replenishment of Hizballah’s depleted weapons stocks presages a revival of attacks and the breakdown of the ceasefire which Israel accepted last Monday, Aug. 14.

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