January 4, 2012
Military tensions are building up on Syria’s borders. Wednesday, Jan. 4, Turkish military sources reported sighting an Israeli Eitan (Heron) drone in the sky above the Turkish Hawk Brigade 14 stationed on the northern Syrian border at Kirikhan in the Hatay district of southern Turkey. The Israeli drone was said to have hovered over the encampment for four hours.
A request by local Turkish officers to fire anti-air missiles to down the Israeli Eitan went unanswered by the Turkish general staff until the drone was gone. According to the Turkish sources, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets were scrambled from the Diyarbakir 2nd Air Force Command Strike Center and stayed overhead as long as the Israeli drone was present.
DEBKAfile reports this is the first time Israeli UAV’s have been reported monitoring events on the Turkish-Syrian border. On Dec. 16, our sources disclosed 21 Syrian Scud missile launchers had been stationed opposite Hatay province as a warning to Turkey, NATO and Arab forces to stay out of the Syrian uprising.
Then, on Dec. 27, our military sources reported that that Qatar had organized and funded an airlift to Hatay of Libyan militia fighters under the command of former Abdelhakim Belhaj, ex-al Qaeda and commander of Islamic Fighting Group in Libya-IFG which seized control of Tripoli. He has established a command post in the Turkish town of Antakya (Antioch).
The Libyan and Free Syrian Army-FASA fighters are training together in Turkish military camps, the main
one being the Hawk Brigade 14 over which the Israeli drone hovered. It is expected to be the main jumping off base for any foreign military intervention in Syria.
Across the border meanwhile, Syria continues its military buildup.
At the opposite end of Syria, the southern Horan province, fierce battles raged Tuesday, Jan. 4 between Syrian troops and mutineers of the 38th Mechanized Brigade, the bulk of which has gone over to the anti-Assad opposition. Both sides fighting with heavy T-72 tanks and artillery around Sida, a village in the Syrian-Jordanian-Israeli border triangle, suffered dozens of casualties.
The 38th Brigade belongs to the 7th Division which is stationed on the Syrian-Israeli border which cuts through the Golan. Sounds of gunfire were clearly heard in Israel. The brigade was the largest military unit to have deserted Bashar Assad’s army in the ten-month popular uprising against his regime.