The Assad regime with its proxies have become more assertive and has retaken several posts on the Syrian Golan since the beginning of Russia’s air involvement.
IDF units on Mount Hermon, which borders Syria, are preparing to encounter Iranian-backed terror attacks, a senior military source told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
According to the source, units operating under the command of the Mount Hermon territorial Brigade have been training to respond to a “combined terror attack” that could involve border bombs, rockets, an attempted kidnapping of soldiers, and possible anti-tank missile fire.
“There is someone who gets up every morning and asks, how can I carry out an attack on Israel? Most of the time, they run into great difficulties,” the source said. He stressed that the terrorists are being orchestrated by the Iranian-led radical axis, which currently controls just one small area bordering Israel, in and around the Syrian Druse village of Al-Khader.
A variety of Sunni rebels have control of all other areas bordering Israel.
On a daily basis, rebel battalions based in nearby abandoned villages such as Al-Bijan, exchange fire with pro-Assad military forces based in Al-Khader, as the Hermon Brigade watches from the mountain peaks above.
Israel does not wish to be dragged into the Syrian civil war, but it is closely monitoring the the rapid changes sweeping the area. Most recently, since Russia began providing air support to the Assad regime, the Syrian army has become more assertive, and has retaken several posts in the Syrian Golan lost in previous battles to the rebels.
Meanwhile, a battle for hearts and minds is raging in Al-Khader. In April this year, the Israel Air Force struck and killed four terrorists who crossed into Israel from Syria and planted explosives near an abandoned IDF post. They came from Al-Khader. Other past incidents involved residents of the village too.
Yet like all Syrian communities along the border, Israel has also provided hospital treatment to long-suffering civilians from this village who have sustained horrific injuries.
Many residents in the village “understand that Israel is not as terrible as they were led to believe” due to such humanitarian acts, the source said.
Nevertheless, the Iranian-led radical axis consisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Assad regime loyalist forces, and Hezbollah are still very much present in Al-Khader, and could be plotting the next attack.
“The other side thinks carefully about whether it wishes to open a front against Israel. We are the fortified wall that will not allow this front to open,” the military source said. “Every breach [of our security] receives a clear answer.” In the past, the threat was a Syrian army commando raid exploiting foggy weather to seize territory on the Golan. Today, the source stated, “I’m not thinking about the Syrian commando unit, which is down to a third of its original size, and is busy defending Damascus.
The current threats are Iranian-backed terrorist organizations, and this is a different type of threat that requires us to prepare our forces in a different way.” The IDF has adapted by giving middle and lower-ranking field officers more autonomy and flexibility, and abandoning set, hierarchical military decision making patterns which no longer fit the asymmetric threat from the other side of the border.
“The threat is changing. It is less static, and more mobile. It changes every day. If we remain fixed in our ways, we will no longer be relevant,” the officer said.
Battalion and company commanders must be familiar with past protocol, but then “reset” them and come up with new ways of dealing with the enemy, while seizing the initiative, he added.
Military units in the Golan Heights work closely with Military Intelligence, and receive daily information on enemy activities rather than just big-picture strategic intelligence that once flowed in to the Hermon Brigade.
But the source said units on Mount Hermon are preparing for the scenario of attacks that do not come with prior intelligence warnings.
The source spoke two days after Syrian media reports said Israel Air Force jets attacked a Hezbollah weapons convoy in Syria, the type of incident that has led to attacks from Syria in the past.
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