392. Memorandum From Secretary of State Kissinger to President Nixon1

SUBJECT

  • Information Items

Military Activity Noted Along Syrian Front: Large-scale movements of Israeli and Syrian forces apparently have occurred along the Syrian front over the past days. UN truce observers reported seeing heavy traffic of Israeli tanks and wheeled vehicles near Al Qunaytirah on the evening of December 12. Additional movements of Israeli tanks and artillery were observed west of Syrian-held Sasa that same evening. The next night, the observers reported large-scale movements of Syrian vehicles opposite Al Qunaytirah and near Sasa on both sides of the Israeli salient into Syria.

Substantial Israeli and Syrian forces are already stationed in the areas of the reported movements, and it is not known whether the sightings represent a redeployment of forces there or an augmentation of them. For the past week, a number of Arab sources have reported that Syria has been putting its civilian and military forces on a wartime footing. They have also claimed that significant Syrian troop movements have occurred along the Golan front and that Syrian forces there [Page 1066]have been reinforced. The reported Israeli troop movements may be in reaction to the Syrian activity.2

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 56, President’s Daily Briefing, 16 November–31 December, 1973, President’s Daily Briefs, December 1–December 15, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Contains Codeword. Scowcroft initialed for Kissinger. A stamped notation on the memorandum reads: “The President has seen.”
  2. Nixon underlined the last eight words of this sentence and wrote: “I doubt it. It sounds like the usual Israeli provocation.”