Israeli officials have been holding talks in Jordan with Syrian opposition officials “in advance of a possible Israeli-U.S. operation in Syria to protect the Golan Heights,” Western intelligence sources reported Tuesday, Jan. 1.
There was no further information about this operation or how rebel commanders were involved in military plans “to protect the Golan Heights.”
Altogether, the goings-on on the Israeli and Jordanian borders with Syria are in deep hush. But European intelligence sources, some of them French and Russian, reveal nightly clashes taking place between US, Jordanian, Israeli special forces and Syrian rebels, on the one hand, and Syrian special forces, on the other.DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose what they are fighting for:
- Each of the four is jockeying both for control of the buffer strips along those borders and for keeping their opposite numbers from establishing intelligence-gathering posts there. US forces, the IDF and the Jordanian army have a major tactical interest in keeping Syrian observation posts from settling in the border sectors, where they would be in position to mark out military and civilian targets if the Syrian conflict spilled over.
- The Assad regime has two special interests in gaining a foothold in Jordan’s border area.
The first is to block the path of Syrian rebels heading back into the country and joining the various warfronts. At least five military facilities in Jordan are training special units of the Syrian opposition. They are managed by American, British, French, Czech and Polish military instructors. They are imparting tactics for capturing Syrian military chemical weapons caches and combating Syrian units armed with chemical or biological weapons.
Some of the rebel trainees return to Syria when they graduate; others are attached to units standing by in Jordan in case the Syrian conflict slides into hostilities with Israel and Jordan.
The second is back-up for the spy and sabotage networks the Assad government is running in Jordan’s refugee camps – just as they are in Turkey. Jordan houses some 60,000 Syrian refugees, most of them in the big Zaatari camp on the Syrian border. To facilitate communication with its undercover networks and the free passage of information, instructions and funds, Syria needs control over both sides of the common border.