Six steps taken by Syria's Assad regime in the last few days, reported by DEBKAfile’s military sources, point to preparations for a massive Syrian army offensive, backed by Hezbollah, pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers. The immediate objective is clearing out the strong rebel presence from the Syrian portion of Golan.
1. The arrival in the Quneitra area of the armored brigades of the 4th Division, which is the elite unit of President Bashar Assad’s armed forces and reserved strictly for battles of the highest strategic importance for the regime.
2. Syrian brigades have come with advanced Russian T-90 tanks that were detached from the Aleppo front in the North. For the first time, these tanks will be deployed a mere eight kilometers (five miles) from the Israeli border.
3. Likewise, Hezbollah has contributed its elite fighting unit. Its Radwan Force arrived in Quneitra in the last few days to take part in the coming offensive.
4. Another concentrated component is pro-Iranian Shiite militia forces. They operate under the direct command of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
5. Appointment by Assad of a senior Druze office as the Golan front's new commander. His name is Brigadier General Osama Zhar a-din.
The motive behind this is an attempt to drive a wedge between the IDF troops posted on the Israeli Golan and the Druze inhabiting the local villages, while also attempting to sow discord between the Druze serving in Israel’s armed forces and their Jewish brothers-in-arms.
6. Our intelligence sources add that Iran, Hezbollah and Syria have decided henceforth to hit back at any Israeli air or artillery strikes against a Syrian target on the Golan.
This was decided at high-level three-way consultations in Damascus on 15 September, two days after Israeli aircraft attacked the headquarters of Syria’s 90th Brigade at al-Shaar, near Quneitra, in reprisal for the Syrian shells that strayed across the border.
Assad informed his allies that he will not put up with any more Israeli attacks on Syrian regional commands.
Still, according to our military sources, the current Syria coalition lineup just across Israel's border is not deployed - at this time - to attack Israel. Instead, its immediate objective is a clean sweep of all the Syrian rebel forces holding sectors of the Golan-Israeli border.
Pursuing this objective, the pro-Assad forces are expected to weigh in with artillery shelling and heavy aerial bombing that will force the local Syrian population of 140,000 to 160,000 to flee. This scenario would confront Israel and the IDF with the possibility of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees clamoring for sanctuary.
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by DEBKAfile at http://debka.com/article/25676/Syrian-buildup-with-Druze-OC-for-major-Golan-op