Syrian military forces were gathered in Tuesday, July 17, to save Damascus.
Tanks and armored vehicles were positioned in strength in the capital’s center and around government buildings. However, the noise and fury of battle in the Syrian capital Tuesday, July 17, were produced, DEBKAfile’s military sources report, by six battalions of Bashar Assad’s loyal Allawite militia in clashes with the rebels who captured the two southern suburbs of Meidan and Tadmon Monday. They are trying to pound the enemy into extinction before its forces reach central Damascus.
The two beleaguered districts are home to a quarter of the capital’s 1.8 million inhabitants.
The Syrian general staff has withdrawn its command headquarters to a well-fortified complex on Shuhada Street in the capital’s center.
If Damascus falls and Assad is cornered, the entire region stands in peril of wider repercussions, because neither he nor Tehran will take defeat lying down.DEBKAfile’s military sources report their campaign will be paced and scaled according to the momentum of the Syrian rebels’ advance on Bashar Assad’s door-step, which could be drawn out and bloody.
On the Iranian-Hizballah list are Middle East oil installations as well as Israeli, US, Turkish, Saudi and Jordanian strategic targets. Saturday, the Cypriot police captured a Hizballah terrorist before he could blow up an Israeli El Al flight and tourist buses in Limassol.
Tehran is feared to be focusing on the Mediterranean island as part of a plot to set Israel’s Mediterranean gas field Tamar on fire. The field is 80 kilometers west of Haifa
It would be a spectacular curtain-raiser for the closure of the Strait of Hormuz and for strikes against Gulf oil installations.
Navy Commander, Maj. Gen. Ram Rothberg called last week for an extra five warships and submarines to safeguard Israel’s burgeoning gas fields at the cost of a billion dollars.
The Syrian ruler has stoked up the menace by moving out of storage missiles and shells armed with mustard gas, sarin nerve gas and cyanide stockpiled for years.
They are on operational readiness at Homs, Latakia and Aleppo and, according to Nawaf Fares,
Syrian ex-ambassador to Iraq who defected to the opposition, may already have been used against rebel concentrations.
The longer the battle for Damascus goes on, the greater the danger that the Syrian ruler will release his poison-tipped missiles against Israel, Turkey and Jordan.