Report: Israel funded, armed Syrian rebel groups
Foreign Policy magazine claims Israel recently ended a surreptitious program of providing succour to anti-Iranian and anti-ISIS fighters to prevent them establishing a foothold on Golan Heights; report machine guns and mortar shells were among equipment provided.
Israel secretly armed and funded 12 rebel organizations in south Syria, which in recent years have helped prevent pro-Iranian and ISIS fighters from establishing themselves near the Golan Heights, according to an article published Thursday in Foreign Policy magazine.
According to the report, more than twenty-four commanders and rank-and-file members of the rebel groups confirmed the claim.
The report claims that the transfer of weapons to the groups, which ended this July, included assault rifles, machine guns, mortar shells and transport vehicles which were delivered by Israeli security forces through three gates on the Golan Heights.
The gates are also used by the IDF to provide humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians caught up in the civil war.
“Israel also provided salaries to rebel fighters, paying each one about $75 a month, and supplied additional money the groups used to buy arms on the Syrian black market, according to the rebels and local journalists,” the report says.
In return for the payments, the report alleges, the rebels believed Israel would intervene militarily if Syrian President Bashar Assad tried to move his army into southern Syria.
Despite the succour provided, discontent prevailed among the rebel groups, the report states, in light of the much larger quantities of assistance provided by other countries, including the Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United States.
“This is a lesson we will not forget about Israel. It does not care about … the people. It does not care about humanity. All it cares about it its own interests,” said Y., a fighter from one of the groups, Forsan al-Jolan, who was quoted in the article.
“Even at the height of the Israeli assistance program earlier this year, rebel commanders complained that it was insufficient,” Foreign Policy said.
The report says that a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the matter.