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Friday, April 4, 2008

Syria and Israel cool the war talk

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said on Friday that Syrua us ready for an Israeli attack, but has chosen peace as its strategic option. He told a Sudanese news agency that as Western pressure on Syria intensifies, Damascus is readying for the possibility of further contention with the United States and perhaps even wars in the region.
The Al-Hayat daily reported on Friday that Israel and Syria have been exchanging messages of truce and warnings against spurring war in the region.
Israeli Military Intelligence officials announced in a defense briefing on Thursday that Syria has not mobilized its reserve forces, denying earlier press reports. All is quiet on the Syrian front, according to the officials.
This  contradicts media reports that Syria had deployed three armored divisions, which was considered as likely to have stemmed from concerns in Damascus about an Israeli strike in response to an attack by Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has threatened to attack Israel as revenge for Jerusalem's alleged responsibility in the assassination of terrorist militant resistance fighter mastermind Imad Mughniyah in February.
Intelligence officials said, however, that there were signs of "nervousness" and alertness on the Syrian Golan Heights signs that also appeared last spring and continued into the summer. They attributed the Syrian alertness in the sector to widespread training exercises planned by the Israel Defense Forces for the near future.
Israeli military officials believe the Syrian army is continuing to train intensively, as it has since the Second Lebanon War, and that Iran continues to provide arms to both Syria and Hezbollah.
Also Wednesday, Major-General Dan Harel, the Deputy Chief of Staff, warned Wednesday that Israel will respond with a heavy hand against anyone trying to target Israel.
In a further sign that tensions were mounting along the Israel-Syrian border, Defense Minister Ehud Barak canceled a scheduled visit to Germany.

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