Israeli military and intelligence sources were uncharacteristically forthcoming when they revealed on Thursday, Oct. 15, that 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops had secretly landed in Syria. This was the largest Iranian ground force ever to set foot in Syria.
Until now, Israel had kept under close wraps any intelligence obtained about the movement of the Iranian forces. However, in consideration of the large number of troops, the continuation of the Russian and Iranian airlifts of forces to Syria, and the possibility that the Iranian troops could be deployed on the Syrian side of the Golan, Israeli leaders decided to go public in this latest development.
This is because of their grave concern that Iran may take advantage of the IDF’s transfer of forces from its northern borders to the domestic fronts for quelling the current outbreak of Palestinian terrorist violence, to go for territorial gains on the Golan and the Israel-Lebanon border.
The IDF released information Wednesday night that it had sent drone and intelligence gathering units from the Northern Command to the center of the country to deal with the Palestinian terror.
The intelligence-gathering units are relatively new, attached recently to field brigades and divisions for supplying data gained by observation posts, forays behind enemy lines and questioning captured prisoners. The transfer of these units to the center of the country presents the IDF with difficulties on other fronts and may leave the military with no option but to start calling up army reserves very soon, if the wave of terror does not end.
Fearing the IDF may strike its forces in Syria, Tehran sent Jerusalem a deterrent message: the revelation of its underground tunnel networks for launching and storing ballistic missiles.
The missiles were shown loaded on dozens of giant trucks with team standing ready for launching, to show Israel that all his ready for immediate action, including war.
Revolutionary Guards chiefs were shown on Iran’s state TV inspecting the tunnels and the missiles and trampling contemptuously on US and Israeli flags.
The previous day, Iran announced that its forces had conducted a test of the new “Emad” long-range ballistic missile, without specifying the weapon’s range or the date and location of the launch.
In Washington, the Obama administration’s response to these messages was low-key, describing the ballistic missiles as a certain violation of the UN arms embargo against Iran.
In another military development connected to the Golan, US defense sources revealed Wednesday night that that Russia had airlifted to Syria Cuban army units to fight alongside the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The sources said they were members of Cuban armored corps units who would drive Syrian tanks, adding that the Cuban chief of staff, Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias, arrived in Syria with the troops.
DEBKA file’s sources: The arrival of the Cuban forces broadens the Russian war effort.
The fact that Cuban troops will man Syrian tanks attacking rebel groups represents a dramatic achievement for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proxy war in Syria.
They are not in the Middle East for the first time. In 1974, the USSR flew two Cuban tank brigades to Syria and placed them opposite IDF positions on Mt. Hermon and other parts of the Golan. From February to May, the IDF traded heavy artillery fire with the Cubans, accompanied by dogfights between Israeli and Syrian warplanes. This war, conducted on the Syrian side by Russian officers, ended on May 31,1974 with the signing of a separation of forces agreement between Israel and Syria.
In addition to demonstrating Russia’s strategy of establishing an international military coalition to support President Assad, the deployment of Cuban troops serves as a clear hands-off signal to Israel.
DEBKA file Special Report October 15, 2015