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Syrian rebels' fury at Israeli bombs

As Israeli planes bomb Damascus and the Assad regime begins a bloody new offensive, rebels in Syria are fighting to defend their revolution and its independence, reports Simon Assaf

Issue No. 2352

Israeli fighters

Israeli fighters (Pic: IDF)


The Israeli airstrike on military installations north of Damascus last week marks a dangerous turn for the revolution in Syria.

Israel is trying to take advantage of the growing chaos inside the country to knock out weapons destined for Lebanese resistance organization Hizbollah. 

It says these are a “danger to its security”.

Israeli newspapers also dropped hints that it wanted to ensure that these missiles would not fall into the hands of Assad’s enemies.

This was the third such attack this year.

The attack coincided with growing calls from the West and its Arab allies to establish a “buffer zone” in the south. 

This would be intended to protect Jordan, a key Western ally, as well as the border with Israel.

There are also growing fear and confusion over the use of chemical weapons and poison gasses—with conflicting claims over which side is using them.

US president Barack Obama warned that the use of these weapons would cross a “red line” and trigger foreign intervention.

Any such move would pose a danger to the revolution and the country.

Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria took advantage of the raid to ratchet up its “resistance rhetoric”.

It dropped hints that it will now allow select “Palestinian groups” to attack Israel from the Golan Heights—the frontline that it has kept quiet since 1974.

Assad’s supporters repeat the claim that they are defending the “resistance regime”.

But the morning after the raid, Syrian warplanes resumed their attacks on rebel areas. The artillery dug into the hills north of Damascus shelled the Yarmouk Palestinian camp and the capital’s poor suburbs.

Revolutionaries have condemned Israel’s attack and accused the regime of failing to defend Syria.

The official Syrian Opposition Coalition denounced Assad for “weakening Syria in the face of an enemy”.

The Local Coordinating Committees (LCCs) said the “regime alone bears full responsibility for the outcome of a country that has become a playground in which regional and international powers settle their scores”.

The Israeli attack coincides with a shift in strategy by the embattled Syrian regime.

Unable to conquer regions lost to the revolution, Assad has concentrated his remaining forces on securing Damascus and a corridor linking it to the coast.

This is a move designed to divide the country along sectarian lines.

In the days before the raid, Assad unleashed a series of brutal sectarian massacres on isolated Sunni Muslim villages along the Mediterranean coast.

These followed a massacre in Qusair, a rebel stronghold near the border with Lebanon. Hizbollah is heavily implicated in the massacre.

The organisation has become deeply embroiled in the civil war, and broken its promise to only use its weapons against Israel. It has sent thousands of its fighters into Syria to prop up the regime. 

Hizbollah once enjoyed widespread support. The Israelis are taking advantage of its disastrous adventure in Syria to weaken what was once a powerful and popular enemy.

The LCCs warned that the “regime is trying to force the country into a sectarian war and to become a divided state that has long been a strategic goal for Israel.”


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International
Tue 7 May 2013, 18:58 BST
Issue No. 2352
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