"The situation in Syria is disintegrating," a senior official in the IDF General Staff said in the wake of President Bashar Assad's recent defeats against the Islamic State and other jihadist groups.
"Syria is currently in the worst situation it has been since the beginning of the civil war and its army is at a low level of fitness for fighting," the official said. "The whole thing is falling apart and Assad is mostly relying on Hezbollah."
The senior IDF official said Hezbollah has increased the number of troops it has in Syria from some 5,000 to about 6,000-8,000 fighters.
According to credible reports, over a 100 fighters were killed over the past two weeks, and were buried in secret in Lebanon. Reports on the total number of Hezbollah casualties in Syria vary, from anywhere between 700 to 2,000 fighters.
The IDF official said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's frequent speeches are indicative of the great pressure the organization is under and the embarrassment it suffers within Lebanon over the price Hezbollah pays as the "defender of Syria."
Israel received reports that Hezbollah was nervous of the large-scale exercise held by the IDF across Israel over the past week. While it made no efforts to calm Hezbollah, Israel signaled to the international community that it is not currently interested in attacking its northern neighbors, despite the fact the strategic situation in the north has become favorable for Israel following the collapse of the Assad army and the blow Hezbollah has suffered.
The leader of the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syria branch, said last week that the group's next target was Damascus.
As a result, a security source in Syria told AFP, thousands of Iranian and Iraqi fighters have recently arrived in Syria with the prime objective of defending the capital and its outskirts.
The Syrian source said the Assad regime was trying to recruit some 10,000 fighters who will support the Syrian army and the pro-regime militias, starting with Damascus and then moving to Jisr al-Shughur.
The Iran regime understands the magnitude of the problem in Syria, but has no intentions of replacing Hezbollah at this point. It is, however, sending senior officers, arms and funds to aid Assad and Hezbollah.
Hezbollah, meanwhile, has not changed its missile formation on the Lebanon-Israel border and has over 100,000 projectiles still aimed at Israel.
This led the IDF to hold drills not just for the Home Front Command's operations, but also the Air Force, Navy and Northern Command's fighting on the northern front.
In case of a war with Hezbollah, the main objective for the IDF would be not to attempt to stop every projectile, but to work to paralyze the organization's long-range missile capability as much as possible by attacking its warehouses early on, hitting thousands of targets in less than a week.
"We need to dissuade them from using their firepower and do so as soon as possible," the senior IDF official said. "The reality in which they fired (at Israel) from villages (in southern Lebanon) is no more. We will make it clear to them that they have to leave the area and fast, because we don't want thousands of civilian casualties."
However, the senior IDF official said, neither Hezbollah nor Israel has an interest in opening a front in the north.