Syrian President Bashar Assad put his cards on the table while hosting Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri on Sunday night and urged a joint Syrian-Lebanese-Hizbullah front against
The two leaders met in a traditional “suhour” meal at night, before the daily Ramadan fast, to strengthen an anti-Israeli alliance and patch up chilly relations. Their countries' relationship reached a deep freeze with the bloody 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father and former Lebanese anti-Syrian Prime Rafiq Hariri. Syria and Hizbullah have been identified by United Nations investigators as being behind the murder five years ago.
Syria's official SANA news agency ignored the historically bitter relations with Lebanon, describing as "excellent" the bilateral relations that Assad and Hariri said “emphasize the depth of the historic ties between the two brother nations, as well as the future horizons for tightening the cooperation between the countries in all areas.”
Hizbullah’s and Syria’s increasing dominance in Lebanon was evidenced Monday by the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper, which reported that their respective military forces plan to cooperate to gather and exchange intelligence information concerning a “bank of Israeli targets” in the event of war.
Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, have flatly stated that Hizbullah’s terrorist army has in effect become part of the Lebanese army.
Hizbullah possesses an estimated 60-80,000 missiles smuggled from Iran and Syria, despite the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mandate to prevent arms from reaching Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, where thousands of the missiles are stockpiled.
Syria also is estimated to have procured long-range Scud missiles, and the combined missile capacity of both armies would seriously threaten Israel if war were to break out. Israel and Syria each have accused the other side of inflaming tensions over the past year in order to create an excuse for an attack.
Lebanese forces recently opened fire on the Israeli army within Israeli territory, killing a reserve officer and wounding another. The IDF returned fire and killed three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist who had been invited to cover what turned out to be a planned ambush.