Monday, December 8, 2014
Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, Israeli cooperation with Syrian rebels near Quneitra
The Syrian government accused Israel of launching a series of airstrikes on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday, as a UN report documented strong ties between Israel and militant groups fighting in Syria.
"This afternoon, the Israeli enemy targeted two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the al-Dimas area and the outskirts of Damascus International Airport.'' the general command of the Syrian army said in a statement. It said the strikes caused material damage.
Both civilian and military aircraft operate at the airport, which lies southeast of Damascus near flashpoint areas including eastern Ghouta, large parts of which are in rebel hands.
A resident in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, close to al-Dimas, said the agricultural airport in al-Dimas was hit. Al-Dimas is in a mountainous area to the northwest of the capital which is under government control and close to several military installations.
An Israeli army spokesman said he would not comment on the "foreign reports,” but the Syrian army reiterated its claim that Israel is helping rebels fighting the Syrian government."This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists in Syria, after our armed forces secured important victories in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo and elsewhere," the Syrian army command said.
The Syrian foreign ministry sent two identical letters to the UN Secretary General and Chairman of the UN Security Council on the Israeli aggression on the Syrian soil, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). The ministry said it had asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel, describing the strikes as "a heinous crime against Syria's sovereignty."
In the past year, Israel has reportedly carried out a number of raids allegedly targeting key Syrian targets and positions of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, an ally of both Syria and Iran.
In March, Israeli warplanes attacked Syrian army positions just hours after a bomb wounded four Israeli soldiers on the Golan.
Meanwhile, observers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) confirmed in a report documenting cooperation and coordination between the Israeli army and militant groups in Syria.
The report, made public by SANA on Sunday, revealed ongoing communication between armed groups’ leaders and Israeli army officers, saying that “59 meetings took place from March 2013 to May, and that during this same period 89 injured militants were transported to Israeli hospitals, and 19 of them were returned to Syria along with two bodies.”
The UNDOF report also said that observers witnessed several meetings between rebel leaders and Israeli army forces between December 2013 and March 2014, in addition to witnessing the transportation of injured militants to Israeli hospitals following confrontations between the militants and the Syrian army near the occupied Golan border.
Damascus has repeatedly accused so-called “rebel groups” such Syria’s al-Qaeda branch, al-Nusra Front, who are active in the southern Quneitra countryside, of working hand in glove with Israel, from which they allegedly receive logistic support. In October, an exposé by Israeli political commentator Ehud Yaari confirmed an existing relationship between the two sides. Yaari also spoke about an “undeclared truce” between Israel and Nusra.