A video shows a field commander of a Syrian rebel group pleading for military aid from Israel.
MINNEAPOLIS — Despite recent attempts at a ceasefire in the Syrian civil war, tensions are continuing to build around the occupied Golan Heights region.
Amid Syrian media claims that Syrian government forces had shot down Israeli aircraft over southwest Syria, a video surfaced that appears to show Syrian rebel forces openly asking Israel for aid in the country’s ongoing civil war.
Al-Masdar News, an Arab news site, posted the video on YouTube on Tuesday. It features what Al-Masdar claims is a phone call between an Israeli reporter and field commander from a rebel faction operating in Syria. Although the video’s YouTube title labels the rebels as members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), both the spoken dialogue and the accompanying article on Al-Masdar’s website suggest the group is part of Jaish al-Islam, a different, Saudi-backed force.
Asked by the reporter to directly address the Israeli government, the field commander says (according to the video subtitles):
“They should support revolution here. May they help us in everything, brother. Weapons, products, help, brother.”
“You have to attack the Syrian army and help us against this government of Kufars [a derogatory Arabic word for “unbeliever”].”
Al-Masdar’s Zen Adra reported that the rebel group has recently intensified its attacks on Syrian government forces in the vicinity of the Golan Heights, a region of Syria occupied by Israel since the end of the 1967 Six-Day War.
“The video was released yesterday [Monday] as the hardline militants launched a wide-scale offensive against government troops in the area, with the aim to take over the Druze town of Hadar and nearby villages,” Adra wrote.
While rebel forces are apparently calling on Israel for help, government forces are boasting that they’re meeting Israeli forces head on. The General Command of the Syrian Armed Forces claimed that the Syrian military had shot down an Israeli fighter jet near the Golan Heights and an Israeli drone southwest of Damascus early Tuesday morning (local time).
But the Israeli Defense Forces denied that the incident took place. “The IDF in a statement confirmed it had been shot at, but said aircraft used to target Syrian positions overnight were safe,” reported Times of Israel and Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.
Jaish al-Islam is considered a terrorist group in much of the Middle East, and in April, admitted to having used chemical weapons against Kurds in Aleppo. But Israel’s been willing to work with terrorist groups in the past in order to advance its agenda in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front), the Syrian arm of al-Qaida that’s recently changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (the Front for the Conquest of Syria) in an attempt at rebranding and distancing itself from al-Qaida.
Israel has taken advantage of the chaos of the Syrian civil war to solidify its hold on the Golan Heights by expanding settlements and efforts to extract the region’s energy reserves. In October, Haaretz reported on the discovery of a major new oil reserve in occupied territory.
Meanwhile, Israel’s involvement in the Syrian conflict likely aligns closely with the U.S. agenda in the region as well, according to the WikiLeaks archive of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
An April 30, 2012 email from journalist James Rubin to then-Secretary of State Clinton included a policy paper calling for the U.S. “to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.” Clinton, who also advocated for regime change in Syria, forwarded the email to a colleague, requesting a printed copy.
“Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly,” Rubin’s policy paper noted.
After analyzing the document in March, Antiwar.com’s Jason Ditz wrote: “There are myriad flaws in [its] reasoning, and in hindsight very few of the paper’s predictions came to pass.”
“Five years into the civil war, US-backed rebels are still comparatively ineffectual, despite huge weapons shipments, and ISIS and other Islamist groups control more than half of the country.”
Watch “FSA rebels beg Israel for help against the Syrian army in south Syria” from Al-Masdar News: