Feb 20, 2013
President Bashar Assad has evacuated most of the troops of his 5th Army Division from their permanent bases on the Golan opposite Israeli forces and transferred the unit along with its artillery to Damascus,DEBKAfile’s military sources report.
The Syrian ruler’s step had three purposes:
1. To reinforce his Damascus defenses;
2. To carve out a buffer zone along the Israeli border and leave it under rebel control.
3. To provide the jihadists fighting in rebel ranks with access to the Israeli border fence. Senior officers in the IDF’s northern command believe it is just a matter of time before these al Qaeda-associated fighters hurl themselves at the border fence to break through, or target Israeli military targets from across the Syrian border.
Assad first practiced this stratagem on Syria’s northern frontier with Turkey.
Six months ago, he opened the door of his border region to let armed bands of the separatist PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) through from Iraq and set up new strike bases opposite Turkey’s back door, to which they could flee after attacks.
The PKK took full advantage of this opportunity. Indeed, to curb the Kurdish offensive, Ankara was forced to enter into negotiations with PKK leaders for a settlement of their claims, although they are still poised in Syria to resume their attacks.