Israel ‘giving secret aid to Syrian rebels’, report says
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2017-07-10 10:19:05

Israel ‘giving secret aid to Syrian rebels’, report says

Israel has allegedly provided Syrian rebels with substantial funding and aid in order to maintain a buffer zone in the Golan Heights border area between the country and its war-torn neighbour, it has emerged. 

The Israeli authorities have provided significant amounts of cash, food, fuel and medical supplies to Sunni rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s government, the Wall Street Journalreported on Monday, citing “half a dozen rebels and three people familiar with Israel’s thinking.”

Is is well known that Israel has provided medical help for Syrian civilians and fighters inside its own borders in the past. The authorities have retaliated to occasional stray rockets in the restive border region with reprisals, but it was previously thought that the Israeli authorities largely stay out of the complicated six-year-old conflict next door. 

 

Most Israeli air strikes in Syrian territory in the last few years have aimed to prevent weapons smuggling to Iranian-allied Hezbollah, which fights alongside the Assad government.

Hezbollah, like Iran, is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

The supposed support for Sunni rebels is thought to have begun as early as 2013 under former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, with the goal of creating a ‘buffer zone’ free of radical militants such as Isis and Iranian-allied forces along Israel’s border.

A special Israeli army unit was created to oversee the costly aid operation, the WSJ reported, which gives Fursan al-Joulan – Knights of the Golan – an estimated $5,000 (£3,900) a month. The group of around 400 fighters receives no direct support from Western rebel backers, and is not affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the official rebel umbrella organisation. 

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