Syria is tightening its military alliance with Turkey as it reinforces its recent threat to send Israel back to “the Stone Age” if it attacks Hizbullah. Syrian President Bashar Assad told a Kuwaiti newspaper on Saturday it has “surprises" in store for Israel.
Turkish military officials said that its soldiers began joint military exercises with Syria on Monday, the second time in a year. The army maneuvers are another sign of closer ties between Damascus and Ankara, which was considered to be a friend of Israel until last year, when it fell in line with most of the Arab world’s anti-Israel campaign.
Turkey also has established closer ties with Iran, and an Iranian-Turkish-Syrian-Lebanese axis would pose a monolithic threat to Israel from the north.
Syrian sources told the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai that if Israel were to attack the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist army, Syria would impose a naval blockade on Israel, using ground-to-sea missiles.
The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad also has the capability to fire 60 ballistic missiles and 600 tactical missiles in one day, the sources told the newspaper. They added that if Hizbullah is attacked, Syria would fight alongside the Lebanese army, which has shown signs of being part and parcel of Hizbullah’s forces.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday tried to defuse the hostile atmosphere, stating that Israel has no intentions of staging an attack.
Diplomatic tensions flared up two weeks ago after it was revealed that Syria has been arming Hizbullah with long-range Scud missiles. The report was first carried by Al-Rai and may have been leaked by the United States in order to create pressure for United Nations Interim Forces (UNIFIL) to beef up their patrols in Lebanon.
Syria categorically denied the charges, and the United States officially said it is investigating the report.