(Fox guarding the hen house? http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060901/ap_on_re_mi_ea/syria_annan target=_blank>From AP: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday that Syria has pledged to step up border patrols and work with the Lebanese army to stop the flow of weapons to Hezbollahâ€¦.According to Annan, Assad said at a meeting in Damascus that Syria will boost the number of its guards along the Lebanon-Syria border and establish joint patrols with the Lebanese army "where possible.")
It now appears that Damascus wasn't just the middleman in arming Hezbollah. Today's Los Angeles Times reports that Syria directly armed the group:
New postwar intelligence indicates that the militant group Hezbollah had broader access to sophisticated weaponry than was publicly known - including large numbers of medium-range rockets made in Syria, said U.S. and Israeli government officials and military analysts.
The size of the Hezbollah arsenal and the direct role of Syria in supplying it will complicate the daunting task of keeping Hezbollah from rearming, the officials saidâ€¦.
The new weapons data indicating a broader Syrian role were gathered by Israel largely by examining debris left by shells that hit the country during the conflict. The examination uncovered the serial numbers and other defining characteristics of the weapons. Israel's postwar forensics have shown some of the rockets were manufactured by the Syrian munitions industry, military sources saidâ€¦.
Israel, backed by the Bush administration, would like to see international peacekeepers deployed along the Syria-Lebanon border - a step it says is needed to prevent arms shipments to Hezbollah. Lebanon, backed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, has resisted that idea, as have the Syriansâ€¦.
Experts said Hezbollah retained significant weaponry even after the monthlong Israeli bombardment. Israeli intelligence officials think they destroyed a large number of Hezbollah's longer-range missiles, but do not know how many remain. The number of medium-range rockets in Hezbollah's possession also is unclear.
In addition to the 3,700 to 3,800 rockets fired by Hezbollah, the Israeli military said it destroyed about 1,600. Together, that would account for fewer than half of the rockets that Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials think Hezbollah had at the start of the conflict.
Will Syria pay a price for all this? I doubt it. Consider this: Syria arms a group that's supposed to be "disarmed" under UN Resolution 1559 (for that matter, Res. 1189, passed in the aftermath of the 1998 embassy bombings, states: "every Member State has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such actsâ€¦."), and the UN Secretary General sides with Assad on keeping troops away from the border used to arm Hezbollah in the first place. That ought to tell you something about the will of the UN to hold Damascus accountable for its actions.