The British Guardian reported that a mediator – a well-known diplomatic figure –acting of behalf of Syrian
President Bashar Assad approached former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with a request that Israel not block attempts to form an Alawite state, which could have meant moving some displaced communities into the Golan Heights area.
Lieberman's office refused to respond to the report.
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According to the report, a source aware of the talks said that Lieberman had not rebuffed the approach late last year but had first sought information on the whereabouts of missing Israeli airman shot down over Lebanon, Ron Arad, as well as three Israeli soldiers captured in the Lebanese village of Sultan Yacoub in 1982, and the remains of Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy intelligence officer who was caught and executed in Damascus.
The Guardian did not name the source nor give details as to his relation to the supposed talks.
It has been estimated several times last year that Assad is attempting to ethnically cleanse Syrian Sunnis in parts of the country in order to form an Alawite-only enclave.
Syrian troops in Homs (Photo: EPA)
Desolation in Homs (Photo: Reuters)
The report describes how Sunni residents in the heartland of the Alawite sect said they were being repeatedly threatened and forced to flee their homes.
According to the report, concerns are particularly focused on Homs, Syria's third city, which western observers believe is likely to fall to the military and Hezbollah by the end of the summer, in what would be the most striking gain yet by resurgent pro-Assad forces during the civil war.
All property records for Homs were destroyed in a fire earlier this month at the office of the city's land registry and residents fear they can no longer enforce a claim to their land and homes.
Homs and the surrounding province is seen as essential to the war in Syria and to any plan to create a safe haven for Alawites if the Syrian state collapses, as it geographically links largely Alawite areas on the Syrian coast and Shiia areas in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
According to the Guardian, Both Hezbollah and Iran are strongly linked to the Assad regime, and by proxy the Alawites, and have played an increasingly direct role in the war in recent months – a push that coincides with a turnaround in the fortunes of the battle-worn Syrian military.
The article noted that the Syrian military's recent advances on the battlefield appear to have reduced the urgency in preparations for the collapse of the Syrian state.
But nonetheless, some Alawites fear the war has already irreversibly changed Syria – and that some communities can no longer co-exist.
Moran Azulay participated in this report
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