Israel has dispatched troop and equipment reinforcements to the frontier "security zone" in southern Lebanon, the official Lebanese National News Agency reported Saturday.
"The Israeli extraordinary measures appear as a prelude to a planned military incursion," the agency quoted an unnamed security official as saying.The Israelis have recently re-strengthened their military presence in the border zone, which runs up to 12 miles along the Lebanese borders, stationing a big force equipped with heavy arms, the agency said.
Israel established the enclave, originally patrolled by 1,000 Israeli military personnel and the 2,500-strong South Lebanon Army militia, in 1985 after it pulled the bulk of its forces in 1985.
"The special movements strengthen fears that Israel would launch a wide-scale military operation in order to try to upset the increasing rapprochement between Beirut and Damascus," the government-run agency said.
Israel has started a rhetorical campaign against a recent accord between the pro-Syrian Beirut government and the Damascus regime that required the two leaderships to coordinate policies in all sensitive fields, notably defense and foreign affairs.
Israeli officials said Lebanon had become a Syrian protectorate as a result of the agreement.
French and Lebanese officials have been engaged in a war of words over the increasing cooperation between Damascus and Beirut.