Syrian official denies assembling forces, summoning reserves staff and Yaniv Berman, the media line news agency , THE JERUSALEM POST
Apr. 2, 2008

Syria has denied a report according to which it has concentrated forces along the Lebanese border and summoned reserve forces in preparation of a possible Israeli assault against it.

"The report, which was published in [the London-based daily] Al-Quds Al-Arab is totally false," Col. (ret.) Ahmad Munir Muhammad, a member of the Syrian parliament's National Security Committee, told The Media Line.

"Syria is not concentrating forces and is not summoning its reserves. President [Bashar Al-Assad's] message is clear: we are for a just and comprehensive peace and for the implementation of the United Nations' resolutions," added Muhammad.

According to Muhammad, there are indications that Israel is preparing a military assault against Syria with American backing. The purpose behind such an attack, said Muhammad, would be to divert the pressure of public opinion from the "American crisis in Iraq and the crises within Israel."

Muhammad also said there was no need for Syria to concentrate troops along the Lebanese border.

"The national Lebanese resistance movement [Hizbullah] has proven that it can thwart an Israeli attack on its own," he said.

Muhammad also said Syria might change its military strategy to using middle-range missiles. He said Syria would use them to protect its land, but would not initiate an attack on its own.

London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Wednesday that Damascus was preparing for a large-scale Israeli attack on Syria and Hizbullah. According to the report, the Syrian army has been maneuvering its forces and drafting some of its reserve forces in preparation for such a contingency.

The paper claimed that Damascus has also raised the alert level along its borders, and has positioned three armored divisions, nine infantry brigades and special forces near its border with Lebanon's Bekaa valley, fearing an Israeli infiltration there. This, it stated, would be a strategic spot for Israeli ground forces to strike, as it is both a Hizbullah stronghold and places troops in close range of the Syrian capital.

Syria viewed recent comments by IDF officials as preparation of the groundwork to justify an Israeli assault, the report continued. It was not stated which remarks were being referred to.

Meanwhile, sources in Syria said the nation's interior ministry would this weekend announce the results of its investigation into the death of Hizbullah terror-chief Imad Mughniyeh. The report was likely to lay the blame for the assassination on Mossad as well as certain Arab sources.

The paper added that Hizbullah would refrain from exacting revenge on Israel for Mughniyeh's killing at this time, so as not to give it "an excuse" to attack.

In related news, the paper reported that leaders of Palestinian terror groups were employing additional cautionary measures following Mughniyeh's assassination, with one official telling the paper that "If Israel managed to get to Mughniyeh - leaders of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and others will be an easy target."

The Media Line News Agency contributed to this report.

Original article: Jerusalem Post
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