Israeli military expert: Assad won't survive Syrian uprising

By Jamie Michaels, July 18, 2012

A senior Israeli military intelligence officer, Maj Gen Aviv Kochavi, told the Knesset this week that he did not believe that Syria's president, Bashar Al-Assad, would survive the uprising.

Presenting a security briefing to the Knesset's foreign affairs and defence committee, Maj Gen Kochavi, who is head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, said that 13,000 soldiers and officers had defected from the Syrian army. Although between 60 and 70 senior officers had been targeted for defection by the opposition, it had failed to form a united front and represented "many groups that differ ideologically."

Speaking before the Damascus suicide bombing in which Syria's Defence Minister, Daoud Rajiha, was killed ,at the headquarters of the National Security Bureau, together with President Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, Maj.Gen Kochavi said he was concerned that Hizbollah and Iran were preparing for Assad's downfall. The IDF are worried that strategic weapons and firearms from Syria will end up in their hands.

He said: "In Lebanon there are currently between 70,000 and 80,000 rockets that might be used to target Israel. Smuggling of rockets from Iran to Lebanon continues."

However, Maj. Gen. Kochavi alleviated fears of an immediate conflict emerging between Israel and Syria, stating: "Assad removed forces from the Golan Heights region to Damascus because he is not concerned conflict will emerge with Israel."

He also compared the situation in the Golan Heights to that of the Sinai Peninsula, which is viewed as a breeding ground for terror attacks. He added: "Recently over ten infrastructures of deadly terror attacks were dismantled. Egyptian officials consider Sinai a secondary priority, and terror infrastructures are currently being tracked."

Last updated: 1:04pm, July 18 2012