According to the Israeli intelligence asset DEBKAfile, the IDF crossed into Lebanon following a second Israeli attack on a military research facility located on the outskirts of Damascus early Sunday morning.
“One Lebanese source claimed Israeli ground troops had descended from the Mt. Dov-Hermon range, crossed the Lebanese border and entered the Shebaa Farms region,’ DEBKAfile reports.
The Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms were captured by Israel during the 1967 War. Although the Israelis claim the area is a strategic military asset, many argue that Israel occupied the region for its water resources.
None of these reports are confirmed by Israel, Lebanon or Syria. But DEBKAfile notes that if Israeli troops have indeed penetrated Lebanon to a depth of 5-7 kilometers and reached the Shebaa Farms, they have taken up positions opposite the 30 Syrian Shiite villages guarded by incoming Iranian elite Basij militiamen.
DEBKAfile reported exclusively Friday that thousands of Basij militiamen had just been airlifted from Iran to Syria, establishing an Iranian military presence opposite Israel from Syria as well as Lebanon. They joined a comparable number of Hizballah militiamen fighting for the Bashar regime.
The Basji (Persian for mobilization) receive orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and have pledged their loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. According to the commander of the Basij, Hasan Taeb, the paramilitary organization numbers 12.6 million members, or approximately 20 percent of Iran’s population.
“Syria is the 35th province [of Iran] and a strategic province for us. If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or Khuzestan [in western Iran], the priority for us is to keep Syria,” a senior Iranian cleric, Mehdi Taeb, said in February.