Syrian and Lebanese Military Staffs Prepare Syrian Pullout

Expects Israeli Reciprocity by Withdrawing From Golan Heights

November 24, 2004

DEBKAfile’s Exclusive Military Sources Report:

Syrian and Lebanese military staffs have begun jointly planning the exit by winter’s end of most of the 13,000 Syrian troops deployed in Lebanon. This has not been announced publicly by Damascus but conveyed this week in two key conversations: Syrian foreign minister Farouq Shara delivered this assurance to US secretary of state Colin Powell on NOvember 23 at the Sharm al-Sheikh conference on Iraq; President Bashir Assad then gave the news to UN Middle East envoy Terje Larsen who visited the Syrian capital a day later.

According to our sources, both will report to their principals that Syria has decided to retain in Lebanon only 4 radar stations – one each atop Mt. Barukh and Mt. Sanin in central Lebanon, one at the Dahar al Baidar keypoint commanding the Beirut-Damascus highway and the fourth at Bsharri in the north.

Syria will not be removing quite all its troops. Evoking its mutual defense pact with Beirut, Damascus will retain between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers in Lebanon to defend its radar stations and their approaches.

In the two conversations, The Syrian president and foreign minister stated that a decision had been taken to abide by Security Council resolution 1559 on Lebanese sovereignty. But they also pointed out that once Syria had removed the bulk of its army from Lebanon, it expected Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights in line with Security Council resolutions 338 and 224.











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