Russian news agency RT released last week never-before-seen footage of Israeli spy Eli Cohen walking down the streets of Damascus as part of a new documentary series about Syria.
The documentary starts with a film bought from an antique shop in Saint Petersburg. The film shows images of a man, believed to be Cohen, walking along March 29 street in Damascus.
The creators of the series reveal that the video was shot by Boris Lukin, a graduate of the Soviet military academy and specialist in signals and communication, whom Soviet records showed was awarded three “red star” medals.
Lukin and Cohen both arrived in Damascus at the same time. One of Cohen’s coded messages back to Israel had spoken of the arrival of 150 Soviet military experts in Damascus after the Soviet-western clash over Syria swayed towards Moscow when the Baath swept to power. The Mossad also knew that Lukin had arrived in Damascus. Both Lukin and Cohen would crack down on fugitive Nazis during their time in Damascus.
Working under the alias Kamel Amin Thabet, Cohen began his clandestine activities in Syria in 1961. He managed to foster close relationships with the Syrian political and military hierarchy and became the chief adviser to the minister of defense.
He provided Israel with valuable intelligence regarding the Syrian army's deployment in the Golan Heights and reported on military and political moves until his cover was blown by Syrian counterintelligence in January 1965.
Cohen was arrested and despite public and clandestine efforts on behalf of Israel, he was prosecuted and sentenced to death.
Eli Cohen was described by the Syrians as "the greatest Israeli spy who has ever operated in an Arab country."
To this day, Cohen's remains have not been returned to Israel despite much efforts to recover them.