July 13, 2006

Israeli Attempts to Cut Off Route to Iran

Last night and today, and continuing tonight, Israeli military forces are attempting to prevent Hizballah from moving the two captured Israeli soldiers out of Lebanon, most likely to Iran. Israeli foreign ministry officials claim to have information that Hizballah is attempting to do just that.

Much of the Israeli military activity is aimed at closing the route to Iran. First, they used runway-busting munitions to close all three runways at Beirut's International Airport. All flights in and out of the country's only international airport have been cancelled or diverted to other locations.

Next, they struck the Beirut-Damascus highway in an attempt to close off the preferred and most-often used airport, Damascus International Airport, less than a few hours drive across the
border in Syria. If you look at the geography of the stretch of road from Beirut to Damascus, there are three main sections. The first section is the drive from Beirut up into the mountains, an area criss-crossed with alternate routes.

Then you come to the stretch over the mountains, an area know as the Mudayrij Ridge. There is only one main route through this area, and a large highway bridge at Mudayrij (built at a cost of $40 million). Destruction of this bridge in an area of few alternate routes could possibly disrupt Hizballah or Iranian agents' plans to move captured Israeli soldiers across the border into Syria.

After traversing the Mudayrij Ridge, you enter the infamous Biqa' Valley, also an area of many alternate routes. From there, it is an easy drive to Damascus airport and a short flight to Tehran. (See my earlier pieces, "And now Hizballah enters the fray...." and "HAMAS, Israel, Syria, Iran - All Pieces of the Same Puzzle."

The Israelis struck the one place that might render the road impassable. Although this first strike was unsuccessful, the Israelis certainly know the right spot to hit.

If they are unsuccessful in this mission, will they then move east to the runways at Damascus International Airport?