Syria Using Lessons From Second Lebanon War to Strategically Arm Hezbollah

Syria continues to transfer advanced weaponry to Hezbollah while working toward bettering its relations with the United States, Israeli security sources say.

The Syrian aid to Hezbollah is interpreted as an attempt to ensure that the militant Lebanese group is sufficiently armed for a possible confrontation with Israel.

Syria's intentions, according to the analysis, is to provide Hezbollah with sufficient advanced arms to raise its strength and capabilities to a level beyond what the group had prior to the Second Lebanon War in July 2006. Such capabilities would allow Hezbollah to embark on an offensive that would force Israel to fight on a second front in case of a regional conflagration, but allow Syria to prevent any fighting along the Golan Heights.

Israeli analysts believe that Syria is continuing to develop a military strategy strongly influenced by its analysis of the results of the Second Lebanon War. As such, the fundamental principle of the Syrian strategy is the acquisition of sophisticated defensive weapons, primarily air defense and anti-tank weapons.

In parallel, Syria is procuring sophisticated missiles that would enable it to target military bases inside Israel, in case a confrontation with Hezbollah escalates and Damascus is dragged into the conflict.

Syria is also stepping up its efforts to better its ties with the U.S. Officials in Damascus have expressed satisfaction with the pace at which progress has been achieved in contacts with the new American administration.

Diplomatic sources told Haaretz in recent days that there are signs suggesting Syria has made certain its border with Iraq has been calm in line with a U.S. demand, and has prevented jihadists from crossing the border on missions against U.S. forces there.

Damascus has also suggested that it could contribute to mediation talks between Hamas and Fatah, but only if it is offered something in return.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah, who participated in the latest round of Palestinian coalition talks in Cairo, told Haaretz earlier this week that "it appears that Syria would like something in return before it allows the talks between Hamas and Fatah to progress. Otherwise, it is not clear why it does not openly support Egyptian [mediation] efforts at this time."