DEBKAfile Special Report February 27, 2012, 11:09 AM (GMT+02:00)
The Russians have upgraded their Jabal Al Harrah electronic and surveillance station south of Damascus opposite Israel’s Sea of Galilee, adding resources especially tailored to give Tehran early warning of an oncoming US or Israeli attack, debkafile’s US military sources report.
Before it was boosted by extra advanced technology and manpower, the station covered civilian and military movements in northern Israel up to Tel Aviv, northern Jordan and western Iraq. Today, its range extends to all parts of Israel and Jordan, the Gulf of Aqaba and northern Saudi Arabia.
Part two of Moscow’s project for extending the range of its Middle East ears and eyes consisted of upgrading the Russian-equipped Syrian radar stationed on Lebanon’s Mount Sannine and connecting it to the Jabal Al Harrah facility in Syria. Russian technicians have completed this project too. Russia is now able to additionally track US and Israeli naval and aerial movements in the Eastern Mediterranean up to and including Cyprus and Greece.
According to our sources, the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kutznetsov’s stay at the Syrian port of Tartus through most of January and up to mid-February had the special mission of keeping an eye out for any Israeli preparations for attacking Iran, Syria or Hizballah. It filled the gap left by the Russian station south of Damascus which was fully occupied with feeding data on Syrian opposition movements to Bashar Assad and watching out for signs of foreign intervention, military or covert, against his regime.
The Russian vessel meanwhile followed increased traffic of US drone over Syria keeping track of the Syrian arsenal of missiles with chemical, biological and nerve gas warheads.
Washington disclosed on Feb. 25 that the US State Department had sent out warnings to six countries, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq, to beware of these deadly weapons. It was not clear whether the warning referred to a possible Assad regime’s decision to use WMD against those nations or the danger of their transfer to terrorists embedded within those countries.
Moscow decided to boost its radar tracking and surveillance reach for Iran’s benefit in response to a complaint from Tehran that it could not longer count on Russia for a real-time alert on an incoming US or Israeli military strike, because those resources were stretched to the limit in support of the Assad regime.
After expanding and upgrading their range to meet Iranian needs by interconnecting the two stations and adding extra Russian manpower, Moscow ordered the Admiral Kutznetsov to depart Tartus on Feb. 13 and sail to home port at Severomorsk on the Kola Peninsula. The Russian stations in Syria and Lebanon were by then ready for their expanded missions.