JERUSALEM – Reports are surfacing that Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders are using the services of 5,000 Shiite Hizbullah soldiers to defend Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime against a growing number of anti-government rebel forces. In response, high-ranking American, NATO and Israeli generals have been quietly moving special operations personnel and equipment into the region in order to thwart possible chemical attacks against Israel, Turkey and Jordan.
Despite repeated efforts by the U.S., NATO and Israel to coax Russia, Assad’s closest ally, into persuading the Syrian dictator to leave the country so as to spare further bloodshed while securing thousands of chemical weapons and their warheads, the Kremlin has decided to make a last-ditch attempt to prop up Assad by sending a fleet of warships to the Eastern Mediterranean.
According to The Times of London, the Russian fleet, which features amphibious assault ships and marines, is designed to prevent any possible combined NATO-Israeli invasion of Syria in an effort to force Assad to leave Damascus.
With Hizbullah and Iranian forces leading the charge against the rebels, who have already conquered significant territory across Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz have informed both the White House and the Kremlin that special Israeli Air Force and ground units would launch attacks against Hizbullah and pro-Assad forces if they detected a transfer of unconventional weapons to Hizbullah. Earlier this week, Netanyahu said that a number of Syrian army border posts and small towns along the Israeli border on the Golan Heights had been overrun by Sunni anti-government rebels affiliated with al Qaeda. The al Qaeda rebels have vowed to attack Israel if they depose Assad.
In response to the growing threats along the border, Netanyahu announced that a sophisticated new border fence would be erected along the Syria-Lebanon frontier within the next two years. NATO and American military personnel have reportedly positioned several Patriot anti-missile batteries along the Turkish-Syrian border and in northern Israel. Intelligence reports have indicated that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders want to secure several long-range Scud missile batteries that could be mounted with chemical warheads for their Hizbullah proxies. Those surrogates could threaten northern and central Israel from inside Syria or Lebanon.
Late last week, the Israeli government and the IDF alerted several major hospitals in the north to continue their ongoing “mass casualty” drills and to prepare special areas to receive victims of chemical warfare attacks.
Dr. Michael Halberthal, director of medical operations at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, told The Jewish Press, “For the moment, there has been no change or upgrade in our alert status. However, we are moving as quickly as possible to complete our new state-of-the-art underground hospital facility, which is designed to accommodate well over a thousand patients, including victims of chemical warfare. When completed, the underground facility will have the unique capability of operating within an anti-chemical warfare environment for three full days without outside support.
“Our doctors and nurses are constantly trained and drilled for the eventuality of dealing with chemical attacks. We already have special decontamination areas that are earmarked inside our current facility, as well as the new underground hospital. Rambam is the first and only medical facility in the region that possesses these advanced capabilities. We hope we never have to use them, but we are ready for any eventuality.”