Monday, Oct 6, 2008
Damascus is plotting a large-scale terror attack or the assassination of a Lebanese figure to drum up another pretext for invading northern Lebanon, according to Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora. Reporting this, DEBKAfile’s Beirut sources disclose that two senior US officials, deputy secretary of state David Hale and assistant defense secretary Mary Beth Long, were sent post haste to Beirut in response to this warning, arriving on Oct. 5.
Sinora told them that “Syria is turning the Al Kebir River (which marks the Syrian-North Lebanese border) from a Blue Line to a Red Line.”
He was joined by Lebanese president Michel Suleiman in charging that Washington’s efforts to draw Damascus out of the Iranian orbit threatened to throw Lebanon to the wolves and the loss of America’s foothold in Beirut. The prime minister said the tip-off he received uncovered a Syrian conspiracy to stage a major terrorist operation or assassinate a Lebanese figure of equal rank to the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri whose murder in 2005 left Damascus under grave suspicion. This time, Syria might be cunning enough to single out a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician to avoid suspicion. The consequent turmoil in Beirut would be the trigger for the Syrian incursion.
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Two brigades of the 4th Syrian Mechanized Division, numbering up to 10,000 men, have been poised on the Lebanese border since last month and are now on combat readiness.
(DEBKAfile first disclosed this Syrian troop concentration on Sept. 20 and again on Sept. 27. For the second article,
Damascus has complained to Beirut and Washington that the pro-Western majority leader Saad Hariri (son of the dead politician) has organized 45 extremist Islamic organizations, most Salafi, in northern Lebanon and established similar fronts in Sidon and the Ain Hilwa Palestinian camp in the south. Bashar Assad’s emissaries claim that these fronts were established to threaten Syria’s national security and curb Hizballah’s burgeoning strength.
Adding to the rising tension around Lebanon, the UNIFIL commander in south Lebanon has alerted the commanders of the multinational contingents to prepare for Israel to pull out on Nov. 21 from the northern part of Ghajar, the village split in two by the Lebanese-Israeli border.
This article was posted: Monday, October 6, 2008 at 12:02 pm