Israel is closely monitoring the transfer of certain kinds of weapons to Syrian
rebel groups, as the downfall of President Bashar Assad’s regime draws closer,
Israeli military officials told US-based McClatchy News Agency.
isn’t going to interfere and stop weapons shipments to the rebels at this point,
but it wants to make sure it knows what they have,” one official reportedly
Other military officials suggested that Israel has been monitoring
the transfer of weapons to prevent them from entering the custody of supposed
al-Qaida fighters who have joined the Syrian rebel’s cause to topple
“On the one hand, there is a great deal of pressure on the Western
world to bolster arms to moderate – what we call ‘friendly’ – rebel groups so
that they are on a level playing field with the groups that might be getting
support from Islamist movements,” this official told McClatchy.
other hand, once you send a weapon somewhere, you can’t control where it goes.
The fear is that the same gun used to shoot a Syrian soldier will one day be
used to shoot an Israeli soldier.”
Israel wants to prevent weapons from
entering the hands of some of their northern enemies, such as the Jabhat
al-Nusra Front or Hezbollah in Lebanon, the latter directly supporting Assad
materially and militarily in combating the rebel groups. In fact, cross-border
weapons transfers between Syria and Lebanon have been monitored by Israel since
the beginning of 2012, when it was believed that the first non-conventional
weapons belonging to Syria were passed over to Hezbollah.
direct action on January 30, when it allegedly destroyed a convoy in Syria that
was suspected of carrying Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missile launchers to
Hezbollah in a border area west of Damascus.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu said he would not let advanced weapons systems into the hands of
Hezbollah, but has yet to comment on monitoring the transfer of other kinds of
weapons between Syria and known enemy groups of Israel.
There seem to be
two scenarios, however, that Israel deems unacceptable in Syria. The first is a
transfer of chemical weapons and advanced strategic missiles to Hezbollah, and
the second involves raids by al-Qaida-affiliated rebel groups, such as the Nusra
front, on a Syrian chemical weapons depot.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to