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Arab Report: Syria Calling Up Reserves

Asharq Al-Awsat says that Syria has begun calling up the Fourth Reserve. Hizbullah is on alert as IDF holds northern maneuvers.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/24/2010, 12:07 PM / Last Update: 1/24/2010, 3:14 PM

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Tensions have escalated along the Israeli-Lebanese border and Syria has begun calling up troops from its Fourth Reserve, sources told the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat.

The newspaper, printed on four continents, reports that the Israeli military has been carrying out drills on Israel's northern frontier, as the second anniversary of the death of senior Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh approaches. Mughniyeh was killed when a car bomb exploded in Damascus on February 13, 2008.

“Well-informed Lebanese sources” told the newspaper that Hizbullah is on a state of alert in the face of IDF “military maneuvers.” The sources added that Hizbullah is concerned Israel may launch a surprise attack on its bases and posts. "Israel has accustomed us to aggression and we are used to being vigilant and on the lookout all the time. That is what we are doing,” a source said. 

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, in Paris, said that “France does not expect that there will be an Israeli military offensive” at present. However, he expressed concern that “some Iranian leaders” might try to cause escalation in southern Lebanon.

'Heading for Battle'
"Without a doubt, we are heading for another round [of battle with Hizbullah] in the north," Cabinet Minister Yossi Peled said Saturday. Peled, who was the head of Israel's Northern Command, said at an event in Be'er Sheva that "no one knows" when a conflict will occur, “but it's clear that it will happen."

The Prime Minister's office issued a response contradicting Peled's remark. "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wishes to make clear that the State of Israel has no desire for any conflict with Lebanon,” it said.

The current Head of Northen Command, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkut, called the reports about tension on the northern border “virtual reality.”