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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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'Warning to Assad sparked tension' PDF Print E-mail
Written by JP, AP   
Monday, 07 April 2008

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Also, Arab paper: Head of Mughniyeh probe arrested and Syria, Israel, Lebanon: Armed Forces On Alert

Apr 6, 2008 23:39 | Updated Apr 7, 2008 13:11
'Warning to Assad sparked tension'
By GIL HOFFMAN

Sources close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confirmed a Channel 2 report Sunday that the reason for the tension with Syria was a message Israel sent Damascus warning that Bashar Assad's regime would be held responsible if Jews around the world were harmed in retaliation for the killing of Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mugniyeh.

Israel has not claimed credit for the killing, but Syria and Hizbullah hold Israel responsible for Mugniyeh's death. Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to take revenge against Jews abroad, and Syria drafted reserve soldiers last week as tensions escalated.

In a move likely to further enhance the tension with Syria, Olmert reportedly approved an American request to allow congressional hearings to reveal details of the strike on an alleged Syrian nuclear installation that foreign sources have attributed to Israel.

Officials in US President George W. Bush's administration asked to reveal the information in order to use it against North Korea. Olmert agreed to the request, despite opposition from Israeli intelligence officials.

His advisers, Yoram Turbowitz and Shalom Turgeman, went to Washington last week to speak about the issue with US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and other top American officials.

Olmert downplayed the tension with Syria at the start of Sunday's cabinet meeting and stressed that there was no connection between the current security situation with Syria and Monday's drill in the Home Front Command.

"I want to emphasize that this is only a drill, with nothing hiding behind it," Olmert told the cabinet. "All the reports about heightened tension in the North are exaggerated. We have no secret plans. This drill is not part of anything else. It seems to me that the Syrians know this as well and they have no reason to analyze this drill differently.

"I would like to make it unequivocally clear that this is a routine drill. The State of Israel is not intent on any violent confrontation in the North. On the contrary, we have said more than once that we have an interest in holding peace negotiations with Syria."

Deputy Hizbullah leader Sheikh Naim Kassem said Sunday that the Israeli exercise was intended to prepare for a new war with Lebanon. He warned that Hizbullah was fully prepared to defend Lebanon if Israel attacked again.

Kassem said the Israeli drills were also intended "to raise the collapsing morale of the people inside Israel following the defeat in the 2006 war."

AP contributed to this report.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1207486207926&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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Apr 6, 2008 9:24 | Updated Apr 7, 2008 1:48
Arab paper: Head of Mughniyeh probe arrested
By YAAKOV KATZ

Israeli intelligence experts downplayed media reports on Sunday that Syrian President Bashar Assad had fired his intelligence chief and placed him under house arrest due to his failure to prevent the February assassination of Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh.

According to a report in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal which quoted former Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam, Syrian military intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Assef Shawkat was put under heavily guarded house arrest following the assassination of Mughniyeh in February.

Khaddam, who was a close ally of former Syrian president Hafez Assad, told the paper that the arrest was made after Shawkat claimed the probe he was conducting into Mughniyeh's death showed that the assassins came from Syria.

"Following this revelation, Shawkat was removed from the investigation, which was transferred to [Syrian President Bashar Assad's cousin] Hafez Mahlof, who has been thinking about who to accuse in the assassination," said Khaddam.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Sofrin, a former senior intelligence officer in the IDF and the Prime Minister's Office, downplayed the report and said it was not the first time that rumors were circulated regarding a falling out between Assad and his brother-in-law Shawkat. Sofrin rejected the possibility that Shawkat was involved in Mughniyeh's assassination.

"Shawkat is a trusted associate of Assad's and is someone the Syrian president believes in," said Sofrin, an expert on Syria and a research associate at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. "There have been rumors in the past that he was arrested or removed, but in the end they all turned out to be false."

In the Lebanese paper interview, Khaddam claimed that Assad used Mughniyeh's assassination to dismiss Shawkat and appoint Mahlof. Khaddam went on to say that Syria's attempts to put the blame for killing Mughniyeh on Arab intelligence services were "stupid" and "naive."

Later this week, Syria is slated to announce the results of the probe into Mughniyeh's assassination. Damascus is expected to blame the Mossad.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to the report.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c=JPArticle&cid=1207238167308&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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Syria, Israel, Lebanon: Armed Forces On Alert
April 7, 2008 | 0853 GMT

Syria has placed its armed forces on a higher state of alert because it is aware that Hezbollah is planning an attack against Israel soon for the killing of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, Israeli television Channel 2 has reported, Israel National News said April 7. Al Arabiya reported that Lebanon’s military ordered residents of southern villages to leave the border with Israel. Meanwhile, sources in the Syrian capital reportedly said the investigation into Mughniyeh’s killing determined that foreigners were behind it. Former Syrian Vice President Khalim Khaddam told a Lebanese newspaper the head of Syrian intelligence was fired because his investigation revealed that those who planned the killing came from within Syria.

http://www.stratfor.com/sitrep/syria_israel_lebanon_armed_forces_alert

 



 
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