Israeli intelligence has given large cash payments to Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces in exchange for information on Islamist factions involved in the bloody conflict, according to a report in Sunday editions of the Abu Dhabi English-language newspaper The National.
The newspaper cited a source from one of the rebel factions in southern Syria who claims that at least three opposition groups fighting Assad have received numerous payments totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Israeli agents who sought information about the identities of all Islamist militants who have established bases near the Syrian-Israeli border.
The National reported that while some of the rebel groups remain ideologically hostile to Israel, they are willing to cooperate with it if it means deposing their current enemy, Assad.
“We don’t have any problems with any party that reaches out to help us topple the regime but we do not want to implement any [external] agendas,” a rebel commander told The National.
After the collapse of peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition factions in Geneva, the rebels have renewed their push to unseat Assad. According to The National, they have managed to make inroads in the vicinity of Quneitra, a town just one kilometer from the border with Israel. Thus far, however, the gains have not been enough to tilt the balance significantly in their favor.