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Israel mulls buffer zone to fend off militant attacks from Syria: report


09:17, February 04, 2013

JERUSALEM, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Israel is weighing creating a buffer zone inside Syria to defend itself from global jihadists " after the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad," The Sunday Times reported Sunday, citing sources close to military planners.

"We presented the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) with a comprehensive plan to protect the border after, or maybe before, the fall of Assad's regime," a source told the weekly.

"A buffer zone set up with the cooperation of local villagers lies at the heart of the plan. If Syria remains unstable we might have to stay there for years," the source added.

According to report, the plan calls for a buffer strip stretching over 16 km in the Golan Heights, an area Israel captured in the 1967 war. In the initial stage, two Israeli infantry brigades and a tank battalion will be deployed inside Syrian territory.

While the plan is being deliberated, the Israeli military has accelerated work that began last year on a new hi-tech security fence being built along the border.

Touted as "the world's most advanced security fence," the barrier is planned to employ sensors and detectors that will automatically beam back data to a computerized control center and alert operators to suspicious activity, including in extreme weather, the Ma'ariv newspaper reported Sunday.

Nine out of the roughly 70 kilometers that comprise six-meter- high steel barrier were built last year, and the project is scheduled for completion by mid-2013, the daily said.

In early January, Netanyahu said the 70-million-U.S. dollar project aimed to replicate the success of a recently completed border fence along Israel's western border with Egypt.

"We know that on the other side of the border today, the Syrian army has moved away, and global Jihad forces have moved in its place," Netanyahu told cabinet ministers, citing Syria's growing instability.

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