Israel Secretly Giving Aid to Syrian Rebels
Israel has reportedly been discreetly supporting Syrian rebel groups for years in order to protect its northern border from the war raging in Syria.
Israel has been secretly providing aid to Syrian rebels groups in the Golan Heights for years, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday night.
Report: Israel secretly giving aid to Syrian rebels. I doubt it was just about protecting the border; https://t.co/4hqCq2qeyL— Kevin MacDonald (@TOOEdit) June 19, 2017
According to the Journal, Israel has offered rebel groups medical supplies, food, funding and even hard cash in order to safeguard the country's border from the ever-deepening crisis taking place in Israel's northern neighbor Syria, which is suffering from the consequences of the bloody and grueling civil war raging in the country since 2011.
Israel's motivation behind its continued and discreet assistance was to stave off attacks from Iranian proxies operating in Syria such as Shi'ite terror organization Hezbollah, the Journal explained, basing the reasoning on similar claims that were associated with unnamed sources.
The report alleged that the aid was mainly provided via a military unit set up in the IDF and tasked with supporting independent rebel groups that do not receive help from other Western powers. The funds directed to the groups are used to purchase ammunition and to pay fighters.
The Journal based its report on interviews with rebel soldiers and other sources. A spokesman for the rebel group Fursan al-Joulan told the Journal that Israel's help to his group was essential and significant. "We wouldn't have survived without Israel's assistance," Moatasem al-Golani was quoted as saying. "Israel stood by our side in a heroic way," he added.
The Journal report said that the Fursan al-Joulan rebel group was the main faction to coordinate its activities with Israel, and has reportedly started this collaboration back in 2013. The group, which is reported to be comprised of 400 members, has worked with other groups in the area that have also enjoyed Israel's assistance.
Israel has been providing the group with a monthly stipend estimated at $5,000, the Journal reported, citing the group's commander as its source.
The Journal contacted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office for comment, and was referred to the IDF.
According to the Journal, the IDF refrained from commenting on the report that it has been operating a unit tasked with the mission to help the rebel groups, but did say that it was "committed to securing the borders of Israel and preventing the establishment of terror cells and hostile forces... in addition to providing humanitarian aid to the Syrians living in the area."
Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel in the past of supporting the rebel groups, to which his regime refers as terrorists.
Contrarily, the Syrian opposition has claimed that Israel was actually collaborating with Iran and Hezbollah to help Assad maintain his power.
The IDF has in the past set up field hospitals along the border to help injured Syrians, and since 2013 when the country first started to offer aid it has treated some 3,000 wounded Syrians.
However, the country strongly maintains that it remains uninvolved in the fighting, and has denied previous allegations that it did take part in one way or another.