Sunday, July 30, 2006

Qana - II

The latest Stratfor special report on the Lebanon conflict considers that a major shift appears to be taking part in the war. It points to an engagement in wider and more intense ground operations, and the report speculates that Israeli forces may soon go beyond southern Lebanon. In particular, the report focuses on Qana:
There are reports of new areas involved in fighting and new Israeli units being engaged. For example, Israeli forces are now fighting in the area of Qana. This is a few miles southeast of Tyre and deep into southern Lebanon. We have heard that the Qana action consists of engineers, armor and infantry, indicating a more traditional combined arms effort. The engineers would be clearing mines, bulldozing fortifications and clearing roads damaged by Israeli airstrikes. Infantry would be clearing the area of anti-tank teams and opening the way for broader armored thrusts to destroy rear infrastructure and isolate forward Hezbollah positions. There are additional reports of engagements near and to the west of the Israeli panhandle in the Dan-Dafna-Metulla region, along with heavy artillery fire in this region. This would be the jump-off point for an attack both westward along the Litani and northward into the Bekaa Valley. There were extensive reports of a major armored buildup in this area over the past 48 hours. This would also explain the decision to disengage temporarily at Bent Jbail in preparation for the new phase of operations.
The information available to Stratfor says that the attacking force at Qana is from the IDF's Nahal Division, which is apparently involved in a westward movement which would take it through the village of Taibe - a critical location, and one that would be needed for any move north into the Bekaa Valley.
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