A colossal Iran-funded and directed armament program has enabled Syria to field 1,000 ballistic missiles and Hizballah 1,000 rockets - all pointed at specific Israeli military and civilian locations, including the densely populated conurbation around Tel Aviv, DEBKAfile's military sources reveal. Syria has smuggled most of its stock of liquid-fuel powered ballistic missiles over to Hizballah in Lebanon, while its own production lines have been working day and night for five months to upgrade its stock solid fuel-propelled missiles, so improving their accuracy. North Korean military engineers and technicians are employed on those production lines.
According to Western military sources, a command center for coordinating a missile offensive against military and civilian targets in Israel has been operating at Syrian general staff headquarters in Damascus since early March with the help of Iranian, Syrian, Hizballah and Hamas liaison officers.
The command center, operating under direct Iranian command, was formally established at a gala banquet attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Damascus on February 25. Its primary mission was defined as "target unification" - military lingo for interaction at the command level to make sure that Tehran, Damascus, Beirut and Gaza do not send short-range missiles flying toward the same Israeli target at the same time.
Each of the four has been assigned one of four Israeli sectors and given specialist training in its features.
The new joint command gave Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah the confidence to sneer at Israel's five-day, countrywide home front missile defense exercise, which ends Thursday, May 27.
In a speech on Tuesday, May 25, he said: 'Israel wants to reassure its people and make them feel strong and properly prepared to stand up to all possible war situations. But this assurance is false. So carry on with your drills," he said, "but when the rockets start falling on the occupied territories, we'll soon see how much good they are."
The command center's central strategy, say our military sources, is to eliminate the Israel Air Force's edge by releasing a simultaneous deluge of missiles and rockets from hundreds of stationary and mobile launching sites in remote parts of Syria, Lebanon, Iran and the Gaza Strip.
Most of the projectiles in the Syrian, Hizballah and Hamas arsenals are propelled by liquid fuel and therefore take 50 minutes to 1 hour to load and loose at assigned targets. During this time gap, they are vulnerable to air attack. As a bridging device, western intelligence sources believe the joint command in Damascus plans to attack Israel with synchronized missile fire from Iran and Syria during the time Israeli warplanes are hammering, say, Hizballah batteries in Lebanon.
The thinking in Tehran and Damascus is that the Israeli Air Force will find it hard to tackle three or four fronts simultaneously.
Tehran and Damascus are therefore building air shields around their missile bases and launching sites, for which purpose Assad asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to speed up the delivery of the advanced Russian Pantsir anti-aircraft missiles when the latter visited Damascus on May.
Medvedev promised to accede to this request.
DEBKAfile's military sources recall that the same Russian Pantsir missiles were ineffective in preventing the September 2007 air strike, by which Israel destroyed the North Korean plutonium reactor financed by Tehran at Al-Azur in northern Syria.
Baruch atem b'Shem, Yeshua