Haaretz: Iran-backed forces are poised to launch military drills near Syria border
By ZAGROS PETROS The Jerusalem TimesThe Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is planning to hold a series of military drills in the eastern part of the country near the border with Syria, where the Iranian-backed militias are poised on the brink of taking control of a strategic point, a military source said Wednesday.
According to the source, the drills are aimed at deterring Iran-supported fighters from crossing the border and making them realize that their “resistance efforts have not succeeded and will not succeed” in disrupting Israel’s security.
On Tuesday, the Israeli military reported that Iran-allied forces have launched several attacks against Israeli forces in Syria, including in the village of Khaboub, near the Israeli border, and the area south of the city of Khan Touman.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) on Tuesday launched a major offensive against the Israeli-held Golan Heights, killing dozens of people in an offensive that also took advantage of a lull in the fighting to cut the road between Israel and the Syrian border.
The military said it had killed at least 12 people in the offensive, and that the military was working to restore full control of the Golan after heavy losses in the first week of the offensive.
A military source in the Israeli army said the offensive was launched to regain control of “an important strategic point” in the Gurdistan region.
The Israeli military is also expected to announce its plans to deploy hundreds of new armored personnel carriers (APCs) to the Gafshen and Yavne regions in the western Golan, as well as the northern and eastern Golan.
The IDF said it was targeting the Islamic militants in response to their actions in recent days, and said it would soon announce the deployment of new vehicles and weaponry.
The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) has launched several major attacks in recent weeks, including a suicide attack on the Israeli parliament in November and the assassination of a senior Israeli army general.
The Israel army said on Wednesday that the operation against the Islamic state in Syria is part of its “offensive against terrorists.”
The military, the source said, was considering deploying “advanced weaponry” and “more sophisticated” weapons systems to its troops in the fight against the terror group.
Israel is also facing a massive increase in the number of people crossing the Gaffa River from the Turkish border to its eastern border with Jordan, the military source added.
The Gaffas is a major artery that carries nearly 50 percent of the world’s water and is used to transport goods and passengers.
The river’s current is expected to break in two weeks and water levels could reach more than 1,000 feet in the summer.
On Monday, Israeli forces opened a new crossing into the Giffa from the nearby village of Tiberias, the army said.
Israeli troops have already been deployed to the area to try to secure the crossing and the surrounding areas from the infiltration of ISIS fighters.
Israel, Jordan and Turkey agreed on the establishment of a temporary buffer zone near the Giffin, a buffer zone agreed on last year to prevent an influx of people and equipment that could be used to attack Israel.
The buffer zone will remain in place until the situation on the Gaffe returns to normal, the IDF said in a statement.