Halutz: Talk of imminent war with Syria is 'exaggerated'

By Haaretz Service

Haaretz

Tevet 25, 5767

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz on Sunday dismissed speculations of an imminent war with Syria as "premature and exaggerated," Army Radio reported.

When asked to comment at the weekly cabinet meeting on reports indicating the possibility of a war this summer, Halutz said "we are always preparing," but added, "The Syrians have also heard these comments. Sometimes speculation can bring about consequences that nobody wants."

The IDF chief also warned ministers that Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah was increasing his efforts to topple the Lebanese government headed by Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, according to the radio.

"Damascus is indeed pulling the strings in Lebanon, but the IDF has managed to lower the temperature on the northern front," Halutz told ministers during the meeting.

The IDF's strategic assessment for 2007 warns of the possibility of a conflagration with Lebanon and Syria in the coming year. The assessment is based on the IDF's working plan for the year, which takes into account the lessons learned in the 2006 Lebanon War.

A senior military source last week said the IDF had identified a decline in regional stability in the Middle East, giving rise to the possibility of hostilities involving Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinian Authority and Iran.

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