Rebels: We won’t attack Israel if it invades Syria

Lebanese president: Hezbollah forces must come home.

June 21, 2013 01:46
2 minute read.
Israeli Syrian border in the Golan Heights

Golan border Syria truck 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Abu Jafar, a spokesman for an opposition group in Quneitra on the Syrian part of the Golan, told Al Jazeera earlier this month that his group’s fighters would not attack Israel if it decided to invade Syria.

The Sunni-dominated rebels are being funded and armed largely by Arab Gulf countries, which are at odds with the Shi’ite axis of Iran and Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the violence in Syria continued to spill over into Lebanon, with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman calling for Hezbollah to remove its forces from Syria as the war brings sectarian tensions in his country to a tipping point.

“If they take part in a battle for Aleppo, and more Hezbollah fighters are killed, it will lead to more tension,” Suleiman told the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir in an interview published on Thursday.

Suleiman, a Maronite Christian, has become increasingly assertive in criticizing Syria, which dominated his country militarily and politically for three decades before the outbreak of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in 2011.

Lebanon’s National News Agency said Suleiman sent the Arab League a memorandum on Thursday requesting an end to Syrian violations of Lebanese sovereignty. He gave a similar note to the United Nations representative in Beirut earlier this week.

The insurgents have suffered a series of setbacks on the battlefield and are besieged in the outskirts of Damascus, facing a slow but steady advance by Assad’s forces, which have begun to regain the upper hand.

In a sign of the devastation being wrought by the war, the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO put the six World Heritage Sites in Syria on its danger list of imperiled monuments on Thursday, urging international efforts to protect them.

Meanwhile, the cold war atmosphere between the Sunni and Shi’ite world continues as the Gulf Cooperation Council condemned Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian war, announcing that it would take action against Hezbollah loyalists living in GCC member states, according to a report in the London- based Asharq al-Awsat.

“The GCC will take measures against [those] in the GCC countries affiliated with Hezbollah in rights to their residencies, as well as their financial and business transactions,” the GCC said.

The GCC called on Lebanon to act against the organization, saying it should “shoulder its responsibilities toward Hezbollah.”

The Sunni Arab media continues to criticize US President Barack Obama for not intervening strongly in support of the rebels.

Eyad Abu Shakra, writing in Asharq al-Awsat on Thursday complains that Obama is all talk and no action.

“In reality, President Obama, who is serving his second term in office, has been doing nothing but making statements and expressing optimism of a change happening somehow somewhere, brushing off prospects of the US being drawn into a confrontation,” said Shakra.

An exception is Jordan, where the regime worries about a victory by the Islamist-dominated opposition in Syria and that the Arab uprisings could spread there next, especially if the rebels topple Assad.

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