Damascus voices concern to Beirut: British towers pose threat to our national security

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2024-02-23 | 02:27
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Damascus voices concern to Beirut: British towers pose threat to our national security
Damascus voices concern to Beirut: British towers pose threat to our national security

After years of anticipation of US and British activity on the Lebanese-Syrian border, the Syrian government decided to send an official memorandum to the Lebanese government regarding the towers scattered along the border, from the mouth of the Nahr El-Kabir in the north to beyond the region of Rashaya in the Bekaa. 

This article is originally published in, translated from Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.
"Al-Akhbar" learned that the memorandum, which arrived from the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to its Lebanese counterpart in the middle of this week, carries a serious declaration considering the towers established by the British for the four land border regiments in the Lebanese army on the Syrian border as a "threat to Syrian national security." 

The memorandum refutes the threat on several levels, starting with the sensitive surveillance and espionage equipment included in the tower systems, which "shine deep into Syrian territory and gather information about the Syrian interior." 

According to the Syrian message, "the informational output from this equipment reaches the hands of the British, and the Israeli enemy benefits from the output to target Syrian territory and carry out strikes in Syrian depth." 

The memorandum also refers to "the presence of some British officers at the towers," at a time when the British played a negative role towards Damascus and participated with the US and other Western powers in their war against it since 2011.

In its second part, the Syrian memorandum recalls the international law regarding the common borders between states, as international law imposes on the first state - Lebanon - (in the absence of war between the two states) to provide the second state with the informational output from the monitoring towers it establishes on the second's borders. 

In case of war, both states have the right to establish opposing towers at a zero distance from both sides of the borders. The memorandum concludes by demanding the Lebanese government to clarify and take necessary actions to protect common security.

While sources from the Syrian embassy in Beirut refused to comment on the memorandum without denying its dispatch, sources in the Lebanese Foreign Ministry confirmed to "Al-Akhbar" that they received the Syrian message and sent copies of it to Prime Minister Najib Mikati and the army leadership and relevant authorities in the state.

However, the Foreign Ministry sources refused to comment on the content of the memorandum, indicating that they would respond to the Syrian message after the official stance was formulated.

The Syrian message comes at its importance, timing, and content in delicate political and security conditions, with its direct impact branching into two aspects. The first relates to the towers on the eastern and northern borders themselves. 

The second is the proposed British project for the southern borders with occupied Palestine, which British Foreign Minister David Cameron officially raised during his recent visit to Beirut earlier this month.

The Directorate of Orientation in the army took its time before answering questions from "Al-Akhbar" "until studying the subject," as did sources from the Prime Minister's office.

Sources close to the British embassy commented, "The embassy is proud of the continuous British support for the Lebanese army and the border regiments that helped secure protection for the Lebanese borders with Syria. Through the monitoring towers, the army could identify and prevent activities, including smuggling," without commenting on the content of the message.

Awaiting official clarifications regarding the danger mentioned in the message regarding the role of the towers in threatening Syria, this indication from Damascus is the first of its kind after an extremely careful policy in dealing with the Lebanese state since the start of diplomatic representation between the two countries in 2009, and even during the peak of the Syrian war. 

As numerous governments have opposed Damascus, posing a threat to Syrian territory by smuggling weapons and militants, launching attacks from Lebanese territories, and engaging in tower construction since 2012, the Syrian side has now begun demanding the dissipation of this threat and asserting their right to access information.
According to "Al-Akhbar" sources, there are discussions about establishing new towers to enhance control over the area extending from the Masnaa's north to its south, reaching Mount Hermon like the dense towers constructed from the sea to Aarsal.

This coincides with the British proposal for the southern borders. This may be why the Syrians have been prompted to act against what they consider a danger for years.

In addition to the repeated strikes on Syrian depth by the Israeli enemy, often using Lebanese territories, the deterioration of Syrian-British relations and the British stance and behavior towards the Syrian government constitute an additional reason for the Syrians to be alarmed by British activity on the Lebanese borders.

The British proposal for the Lebanese southern borders coincides with the construction of towers, while London continues to support the Israeli enemy with weapons and ammunition, training some Israeli soldiers on British territories and providing Israel with information from reconnaissance aircraft, in addition to carrying out attacks on Yemeni forces in defense of Israel. 

While the US adoption of the British proposal has not yet appeared, "Al-Akhbar" learned that there are British contacts with the US envoy Amos Hochstein to adopt this proposal as part of a basket of proposals related to the southern borders. 

The proposed project includes the construction of towers that monitor five kilometers deep into Lebanese territory and five kilometers into occupied Palestinian territory, with work starting in a small area and then expanding along the entire border. 

However, the British have no guarantees that Israel would agree to it. On the contrary, Western diplomatic sources indicate that Israeli officials have dismissed this proposal. 

The same goes for Lebanon, which has no guarantees of Israel's commitment to this kind of agreement, and neither the resistance nor the army is likely to offer a gift to the enemy.

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