Israel could be handing out significant sums of money to rebels in southern Syria for information on the Islamist militias and fighters near the Jewish state's border, according to a report in Abu Dhabi-based newspaper the National.
There are at least three rebel outfits claiming to be in regular contact with Israeli intelligence agents, the report says. One established rebel commander apparently told the newspaper that they have received more than one delivery of funds, and that each delivery is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The factions' views towards the Jewish state may be hostile, but "when they run out of cash, they contact the Israelis," the commander told the National, saying the practice was seen as a means of achieving the rebels' ultimate aim: President Bashar Assad's ouster.
The rebels have made slow advances in southern Syria, including a push to the outskirts of Quneitra - the Syrian town closest to the border with Israel. Assad's response has been brutal, with the Syrian air force intensifying its campaign of airstrikes and barrel bombs, which have inched closer to the Israeli border.
Rebels in the area have said attacks so close to the border are without precedent in the three-year-old civil war.