JERUSALEM – Iran, Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia are preparing for a U.S.-led war this summer, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.

“Their preparation is defensive ahead of war. … They fear a war initiated by the Americans because they understand that there might be an attack against Iran over the summer, but not by Israel,” IDF Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told the Knesset today.

Yadlin said Iran and Syria believe a war this summer will be initiated by the U.S. and that Israel will be involved. He said Israel has been monitoring Iranian fortification of Tehran’s military positions; Syrian military movements and indications of war preparation with the help of Iran; and the large-scale smuggling of Iranian-supplied weapons to Hezbollah.

Yadlin noted the war preparations are defensive. He said Israel doesn’t expect Iran or Syria to start a confrontation.

“What we are seeing is their preparation for the possibility of war in the summer. My assessment is that they are defensive preparations for war,” Yadlin told the Knesset.

The military intelligence chief, though, said he feared hostilities could break out even without a U.S.-led strike because of “the involvement of many players.”

WND previously reported Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, head of the IDF’s intelligence research division, said the Syrian army has been placed on high alert for attacks. He said Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered increased production of long-range missiles and instructed the Syrian military to position anti-tank missiles closer to the Syrian border with Israel.

Security officials told WND there have been indications Syria is seeking to launch a provocation. Assad has made multiple statements to his state-run media he is preparing his army for war. Also the officials say state-run Syrian media have been broadcasting regular warlike messages unseen since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Syria and Egypt launched invasions from the Golan and the Sinai desert.

“The tone [in Syria] is one of preparing the public for a war,” said a senior security official.

He said any Syrian provocation would likely be coordinated with Iran. Tehran and Damascus, which both support Hezbollah, have signed several military pacts.

Also, according to Israeli intelligence officials, Iran and Syria have been smuggling mass quantities of weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The officials say Hezbollah has regained most of its strength since the militia’s war last summer with the Jewish state and that the rate of weapons smuggling has nearly doubled the past few weeks.

“The Iranian weapons are coming in so furiously, there are even indications Syria is worried about Israeli deterrent action against Hezbollah,” a security official said.

WND reported earlier this month Iran has been working with Palestinian groups in Gaza to help improve the range of Palestinian rockets, smuggle in mass quantities of weapons, construct underground bunkers and build guerrilla-like armies.

Israel says Hamas is sending hundreds of Gaza-based militants to Iran for prolonged periods of advanced training and that the smuggling of weaponry into Gaza from the neighboring Egyptian Sinai desert recently increased six-fold. Israeli officials say Palestinian terror groups were taking advantage of a cease-fire signed in November to enhance rockets and create a complex system of underground war bunkers.

The reports of Iranian and Syrian war preparations come alongside the announcement this weekend by an American congressional delegation visiting Damascus stating they believe there is an opportunity for dialogue with the Syrian leadership.

“We came because we believe there is an opportunity for dialogue,” read a statement by the American diplomats released by the U.S. Embassy in Syria today. “We are following in the lead of Ronald Reagan, who reached out to the Soviets during the Cold War.”

Earlier this month, Ellen Sauerbrey, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, visited Damascus in a public gesture widely seen as an expression of Washington’s willingness to engage Damascus.

Sauerbrey was the most senior U.S. official to visit Syria since the U.S. withdrew its ambassador following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, for which Syria was widely blamed. Syria also openly provides refuge to Palestinian terror leaders and has been shipping weapons to Hezbollah. Damascus is accused of supporting the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Alongside the reports of Arab war preparations, Israel has also been taking some defensive measures. Two weeks ago the Jewish state engaged in a nationwide wartime drill, acting out responses to various wartime scenarios, including salvoes of chemical-tipped missiles and major terrorist attacks. It was the largest war drill held in Israel since its establishment in 1948. Israeli government spokesmen said the drills were to test lessons learned during last summer’s war against the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Israeli security sources also confirmed to WND stepped-up training schedules for IDF reservist troops. They say the training is not related to any expected confrontations, but is in response to internal military investigations that found reservists were not properly trained for the Lebanon war.

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