- Hezbollah improving military expertise and experience in Syrian civil war
- Pentagon tests Iron Dome, adopts Israeli bombing tactics
Hezbollah has been developing new skills and capabilities in its efforts to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, which could pose a challenge for Israel in a future Lebanon war, according to an article in Voice of America on Wednesday. Similarly, at a hearing on the Hill last week, Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, Tamara Cofman Wittes, noted that the war in Syria has provided Hezbollah fighters with “extensive experience in conventional warfare, increasing their battle hardiness and capabilities” in a future confrontation with Israel. Aram Nerguizian, a Mideast analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues that “Hezbollah has become more proficient at mass force maneuvers and of tying together different battle groups,” including Iraqi militias and other Shiite militias consisting of Afghanis and Pakistanis. Hezbollah is also improving its logistical operations and learning to use more sophisticated equipment, artillery cover, and reconnaissance and surveillance drones more effectively. Furthermore, Hezbollah has deepened its military alliance with Iran.
Last week, Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Yair Golan, warned that the next war Israel fights with Hezbollah in Lebanon will be a “full-scale war” that causes “devastating damage to Lebanon.” Hezbollah has stockpiled around 150,000 rockets and missiles, some with sophisticated guidance systems, and has placed its military infrastructure among Shiite villages in southern Lebanon, putting Lebanese civilians at risk and using them as a human shields. Golan stated, “There is no other way to take out this threat without... creating large damage to the Lebanese infrastructure, to Lebanese houses and other civilian facilities."
Iran and Hezbollah are also attempting to build up terror infrastructure along the Golan Heights. Matthew Levitt, director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explained that Hezbollah has chosen to do so in Syria because “it is important for them to be able to open up a front from which they can do smaller things from time to time against Israel,” thereby maintaining their image as an anti-Israel resistance organization. Nerguizian stated that Hezbollah “would like to maintain a stable footing in the Golan and leave troops there after the Syrian civil war is over.” Israel has indicated it will not allow Hezbollah and Iran to establish a foothold along the Golan Heights, and top Israeli officials have been insistent that a future agreement on Syria not strengthen Iran and Hezbollah.
The U.S. military has adopted Israel’s so-called “knock-on-the-roof” bombing tactic to minimize civilian casualties when attacking ISIS targets, a Pentagon spokesman disclosed in a briefing Tuesday. This development, combined with the successful testing last week of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile technology in the U.S., points to the strengthened military cooperation between the two allied countries over the past few years.The U.S. military had identified and monitored an ISIS “finance emir” in Mosul, Iraq earlier this month, Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten told reporters. “He was the major distributor of funds to Daesh fighters,” Gersten said, using another name for ISIS. “We watched him come and go from his house, we watched his supplies, we watched the security that was involved in it. And we also watched occasionally a female and her children in and out of the quarters.”
The military decided to explode a Hellfire missile in the air above the building “so it wouldn’t destroy the building, simply knock on the roof to ensure that she and the children were out of the building,” Gersten explained. “And then we proceeded with our operations.” The spokesman acknowledged the Israeli influence, saying, “That’s exactly where we took the tactics and technique and procedure from.” The military also dropped leaflets warning of the attack, reminiscent of phone calls and text messages that the IDF has made to civilians in Hamas-heavy areas that may be targeted.
The woman in Mosul left the building, allowing the U.S. to begin airstrike procedures. But then she ran back into the building in the final seconds before launch, Gersten said. The Pentagon believes that the finance emir and the female are likely dead.
The Pentagon also disclosed that it had conducted the first successful test of Iron Dome in the U.S. last month at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The missile successfully hit a target drone, and also intercepted targets when firing newer missiles adapted to the Army’s specifications. The Pentagon plans to deploy Iron Dome with two active-duty and seven National Guard battalions beginning in 2019, Defense Update reported. (via TheTower.org)