Massing on the Heights

Hezbollah forces mass on Israel’s northern border

Israeli soldiers work on top of a tank in a position in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights / AP

Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah are building a military force on Israel’s northern border in the Golan Heights in order to wage "popular resistance" against the Jewish state, according to a report released Tuesday.

Military forces constituted by both Syrian and non-Syrian forces have been amassing near the Golan Heights and are waiting for an attack order, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which has collected and translated a number of Arab media reports on the matter.

"Regiments and brigades, both Syrian and non-Syrian, are being established to wage ‘popular resistance’ against Israel in the Golan—although the intention is clearly to wage armed guerilla warfare like that of Hezbollah," according to MEMRI.

"Syria's allies—chiefly Hezbollah and Iran—announced that they would support resistance in the Golan, and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, whose organization is fighting in Syria alongside the regime forces, stressed that his organization would provide this resistance with all the material and moral support it required," according to MEMRI.

Recent Lebanese media reports have stated that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has ordered the elite Quds Force to "oversee" the military operation against Israel.

Khamenei "recently appointed Qasem Soleimani [the commander of the Quds Force in the IRGC] to oversee the struggle against Israel via Syrian land," MEMRI reported.

The renewed militarization of the Golan Heights, which Israel annexed following a 1967 war, is a sign that the years-long civil war in Syria is spilling across borders as militants affiliated with Iran attempt to keep Assad in power and divert attention to Israel.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed to retaliate against Israel earlier this month after it carried out a series of military operations in Syria aimed at destroying Iranian weapons shipments destined for Hezbollah.

"Assad warned that ‘the Golan will become a resistance front’" during his meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on May 7, 2013, MEMRI noted in its report.

"Syria could easily please its people and its allies by firing a few missiles at Israel," Assad was quoted as saying earlier this month in a Lebanese newspaper aligned with the regime.

"We desire strategic revenge by opening the gates of resistance and turning all of Syria into a resistance state … much like Hezbollah, for the sake of Syria and the coming generations," Assad was quoted as saying in translations of the report performed by MEMRI.

Syrian Information Minister Omran Al-Zu’bi made similar comments.

"Israel should know that Syrian skies and land are not a promenade," Al-Zu’bi was quoted as saying in the Lebanese press earlier this month, according to MEMRI. "We are a people that does not forget to respond to aggression. … The Golan is Syrian land and Syria has the right to operate there as its owner."

Joint Syrian and Iranian brigades assembled near the Golan Heights following these calls. Additionally, a new military headquarters has been established there, according to MEMRI.

"The Popular Front for Change and Liberation, which is part of the current Syrian government and calls itself ‘a national opposition,’ announced its intention to establish ‘The Popular Liberation Front Brigades’ that will work to liberate ‘all usurped lands, chiefly the occupied Golan,’" MEMRI found. "A military headquarters was established in order to carry out the mission, and the front called on all Syrian citizens to join its ranks."

Iran is believed to have committed military resources to Assad’s Golan force.

"We are with you and we will not allow Syria to fall into the hands of Israel, the U.S., or the men of takfir [i.e. the Islamists fighting the Syrian regime]," Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi was reported to have told Assad during a May 7 meeting in Damascus, according to MEMRI ‘s translations.

Additionally, "Iranian army and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also noted that resistance forces were being established in Syria in order to operate in the Golan and said that its liberation was possible and might even happen in the coming months," according to MEMRI.

Iranian Deputy Chief-of-Staff Masoud Jazayeri additonally told Hezbollah's al-Manar television station, "In the next few months, we will witness fundamental changes in the region … some of which will pass through the Golan, Allah willing," according to the MEMRI report.