Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State
Summary: Reports from the U.S. Mission at Damascus indicate that Syria is the center of recruitment and training of the so-called “irregulars”, which are intended for infiltration over the Palestine border and subsequent guerilla work in Palestine. There is evidence that such forces have already proceeded across the border to a considerable extent. National forces do not appear to be directly involved.
- Recruitment. Active recruiting of “irregulars” under Fawzi Qawuqji has been carried on in Syria. The total recruited by January 1, 1948 was estimated at approximately 16,000, although only a small number actually were receiving instructions and uniforms. (Damascus 436 of Dec. 20, 1947; Damascus 438 of Dec. 21, 1947; Damascus 2 of Jan. 1, 1948.2)
- Training. Syria appears to be the training center for recruits from Palestine, Egypt and Iraq. The Liberation Army Chief of Staff is reported to be Taha Hashimi and the Field Commander to be Qawuqji. (Damascus 415 of Dec. 11, 1947.3) Two contingents of Iraqi volunteers arrived in Syria for training, totalling 800, and indications [Page 556]are that more will follow. Syria presumably arms them. Supply arrangements were embarrassed by the unexpectedly large number of such volunteers. (Damascus 24 of Jan. 12, 1948; Damascus 39 of Jan. 19, 1948.4)
- Infiltration into Palestine. Sizeable bands of the volunteer “irregulars” have crossed the border from Syria into Palestine. (Damascus 436 of Dec. 20, 1947; Damascus 439 of Dec. 22, 1947; Damascus 453 of Dec. 28, 1947.5) It was reported that a prominent Hama deputy, Akram Haurani, led a force into north Palestine in the last week of December. (Damascus 7 of Jan. 3, 1948.6) Arabs reportedly dressed in Syrian Army uniforms fell back into Syria following night action about January 9, 1948. (Jerusalem 43 of January 12, 1948—Eight[h] report for Army.) Emir Faour is reported to have stated that an attack of Fadl tribesmen across the Palestine frontier in the second week of January was made “under orders”, and [Syrian] Defense Minister Sharabati in a flat statement to American newsmen described the attack as a “screen”, under cover of which there is good reason to believe that approximately 600 Syrian-trained, equipped and transported “regular irregulars” moved across the border into Palestine. (Damascus 31 of January 15, 1948.6)
- Memminger7 has suggested that the Department “might consider cautioning the Syrian Government that its participation in recruiting, arming, training, financing and transporting the ‘irregulars’ to the frontier in Syrian army trucks is contrary to the word and spirit of the U.N. charter and the G.A. U.N. resolution on partition.” (Damascus 31 of January 15, 1948.6)