Israeli Army officers believe that Syria has been arming and training Hizbullah fighters in the use of advanced antiaircraft weapons in recent months, which would increase the potential of escalation in Lebanon, the Haaretz daily reported.
"The potential of escalation in Lebanon is huge, and Hizbullah continues to strengthen with regard to long-range weaponry and potential 'surprises' on the battlefield," a senior Israeli officer in the Northern Command said.
"We will have to find answers to the transfer of antiaircraft weaponry, and chemical and biological weapons. It could be a cause to change Israel's retaliation policy," he added.
The officer told the Israeli newspaper that hundreds of fighters were taught to use surface-to-air missiles in Syria and Iran.
The officers are worried by two developments involving Syria and Hizbullah that could change the balance of power in the region. The first is the transfer of huge quantities of surface-to-air missiles; the second, the transfer of chemical and biological weapons, Haaretz reported.
The Israeli Army officer points to a "regular transfer" of weapons from Syria to Hizbullah that began even before the rebellion against President Bashar Assad's government.
"The more Assad loses his grip, the transfers will increase," the officer explained. "We're troubled by the transfer of strategic components from Syria to Lebanon, and if that happens, it might be cause for a more active response," he added.
According to Israeli Army estimates, three Syrian battalions are in charge of operating SA-17s - relatively long-range advanced Russian antiaircraft missiles. The Air Force has already altered part of its activity on the northern border for fear of surface-to-air missiles.
Haaretz said the Israeli Army officer is certain that Hizbullah, too, has hundreds of long-range missiles, including, among others, M600 missiles and Scud missiles.
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