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Syria Rebels Vow to ‘Liberate Golan Heights’ after Assad Aalls

Published on: March 12, 2013

Syrian rebels operating in the region near the border with Israel threatened on Sunday to fight to regain the Golan Heights from Israel following the toppling of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In a video published online, a rebel fighter, filmed against the backdrop of the Golan Heights, said “we are in the occupied Golan Heights, which the traitor Hafez Assad sold to Israel 40 years ago. These lands are blessed and the despicable Assad family promised to liberate them, but for 40 years the Syrian army did not fire a single bullet. We will open a military campaign against Israel. We will fire the bullets that Assad did not and we will liberate the Golan.”

The Israel-Syria border has been mostly quiet since 1974.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry has voiced his concerns about the potential for radical Sunni elements to take power in a post-Assad Syria.

“There is a great concern that uncontrolled elements at the service of extremist ideas will manage to take over smaller or bigger separate territories inside the Syrian borders,” Yigal Palmor told the Turkish Hürriyet Daily News in an interview in Jerusalem.

“The ‘Somalization’ of Syria is a great concern. We hope that this war ends as quickly as possible, with a central power emerging that will rule all Syria,” he said.

“We don’t have any pretext to [militarily] intervene in what is going on in Syria. Nobody wants us to do that and we don’t want to do that. We stay on the sidelines, except where our vital security interests are threatened. We reserve our right to limited intervention,” Palmor said.

In the interview with the Turkish newspaper, Palmor revealed that Israel had coordinated with the Red Cross to send humanitarian aid into Syria, but Israel was told that the refugees refused to receive aid from Israel. Private aid organizations in Israel are already working with Jordan for human assistance to Syrian refugees, Palmor said, adding, “this shows that the Israeli public wants to help Syrians no matter what politics dictates.”

In July 2012, Israel Defense Forces Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi warned that global jihadists have moved into Syrian territory bordering the Golan Heights and could soon use the area to stage attacks on Israel. In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Kochavi said that Islamic terrorists have taken advantage of the chaos created by the Syrian civil war to approach the Golan area. Kochavi told lawmakers that a power vacuum has created a possible arena in the Golan Heights for anti-Israel operations, similar to what was happening in Egypt’s Sinai region, where the government in Cairo is finding it hard to impose its authority on the desert peninsula.

“The Golan area is liable to become an arena of operations against Israel in much the same way the Sinai is today, and that’s a result of the increasing entrenchment of global jihad in Syria,” he said.

In Dec. 2012 a senior Israeli intelligence official told Channel 2 TV that global jihad groups have been preparing near the border with Israel, and are “stockpiling huge amounts of lethal weapons for a fight with Israel.”

“The main problem is not the local rebel groups but fighters coming from outside Syria. Hundreds of fighters have begun streaming into Syria from Jordan and Iraq. They come from countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, and many other countries. We’re talking about very dangerous people with experience fighting the U.S. army in Iraq as well as fighting the regime in Libya. We estimate that there are between 3,000 to 4,000 rebel fighters belonging to radical Salafist groups who all belong under the al-Qaida umbrella,” the official said.

“We expect these rebels to stockpile a large amount of rockets, a situation which will return the northern Israeli communities into the line of fire. We assess that once the foreign rebels have finished fighting Assad’s army they will all turn their attention to the border with Israel. There is no question about it. Once the Assad regime falls, we will start seeing incidents on our border. I assess that it will start with a trickle of incidents, like we see on the Egyptian border, and further down the line we’ll start seeing the firing of anti-tank missiles at IDF vehicles, roadside bombs against patrols, and these are only the incidents I can reveal. I believe we will see much worse things,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the German Der Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday that the United States is secretly providing military training in Jordan to Syrian rebels. According to the report, some 200 rebel fighters have already received training in recent months and there are future plans to train a total of 1,200 members of the Free Syrian Army at two camps in southern and eastern Jordan. The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the report.

Arab media on Sunday reported fierce, ongoing battles between rebels and the Syrian military throughout the country. More than 150 people were reportedly killed over the past day.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned on Sunday that there could be three million Syrian refugees by the end of 2013, if the violence in the country continues.

According to reports on Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera, Free Syrian Army fighters captured a Syrian military aerial defense base in the Deir el-Zour region of northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border. Rebels flaunted a large cache of anti-aircraft missiles taken from the base and accused the Iraqi military of helping Assad’s forces.

Also on Sunday, the deputy head of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qassem, said in an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper that the Assad regime has the situation under control in Syria and is close to subduing the rebels.

Qassem denied reports that he was recently injured in a Syrian rebel ambush of a convoy travelling from Beirut to Damascus.

Qassem also warned Israel not to attack Lebanon, saying, “the Israelis grossly violate Lebanese sovereignty and penetrate Lebanon via the air, sea and land. We reserve the right to respond to any Israeli action in Lebanon as we see fit.”

(Yisrael Hayom)

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