Syrian Rebel Commanders Flee to Israel: Report

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DAMASCUS — Four top mili­tant commanders have fled southern Syria to Israel after hundreds of Western-backed “White Helmets” did the same in the face of the Syrian army’s imminent recapture of a strategic province.

According to pan-Arab news and commentary web­site al-Masdar News, the militants fled the Syrian province of Quneitra with their families and were se­cured by Israeli military once they got into the occu­pied Golan Heights.

It named the militant commanders as Moaz Nas­sar and Abu Rateb of Fursan al-Golan Brigade, Ahmad al-Nahs of Saif al-Sham Bri­gade, and Alaa al-Halaki of Jaish Ababeel.

The website cited what it called as opposition sourc­es revealing that the com­manders had been recruited by the Israeli intelligence and remained in touch with Israeli officers for years.

Quneitra and the neighbor­ing Dara’a province have been used for years to transfer injured militants into the occupied Go­lan Heights for treatment.

Israel transported sev­eral hundred “civil defense workers” known as White Helmets from southwest Syria to Jordan overnight Saturday at the request of the United States and Euro­pean countries.

Military authorities said Israel engaged in the “out of the ordinary” opera­tion due to the “immediate risk” to their lives as Syrian forces closed in on the area.

Israel stressed that it was not intervening in the ongoing fighting in Syria but on Sunday, an Israeli airstrike hit a military post in the city of Misyaf in Hama province.

Israel has attacked Syri­an targets on many occasions since 2011. Last week, Syrian state media said Israeli rock­ets had struck a Syrian mili­tary position near Nairab airport on the outskirts of the city of Aleppo.

Members of a Western-backed aid group accused of working with Takfiri mili­tants and staging false flag gas attacks in Syria have re­portedly been evacuated to an Israeli military base.

The attack came after Germany’s Bild newspaper reported that a convoy of dozens of buses crossed the Syrian border into Israel late Saturday and were escorted to the Jordanian border, car­rying White Helmets.

The Jordanian govern­ment, which has consistently refused to accept Syrian refu­gees in recent years, said an exception was made in this case as the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany agreed to take the 800 White Helmets and their families.

According to the Bild report, the secret operation began around 9:00 p.m. Sat­urday, reaching its peak af­ter midnight.

Syrian state TV Al-Ikh­bariya reported the Israeli evacuation of the White Hel­mets, calling it a “scandal” and saying “terrorist groups” now have “zero options.”

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, plan­ning for the evacuation had been in the works for some time but was speeded up af­ter a recent NATO summit in Brussels

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