A senior aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel of involvement in the Syrian civil war, saying it sent troops to bolster rebel forces fighting to topple Assad in a conflict that has already claimed the lives of 140,000 people.
In a television interview with a Hezbollah-linked channel late Monday, Syrian presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban claimed IDF officers were physically present in Syria to monitor the fighting and call in troops to assist the opposition.
She said some of the undercover Israeli troops had been wounded in battle.
Israel has repeatedly stated that it has no direct involvement in the Syrian war. It has hit back when shells fired during the conflict have landed inside Israeli territory, and treated hundreds of Syrian casualties at a border IDF field hospital and at hospitals inside Israel.
Portraying Assad’s struggle against rebel forces as a war on terror in Syria, Shaaban also called on Jordan to control rebel traffic into Syria and on Saudi Arabia to stop funding and supporting rebel fighters.
She said the Syrian government’s first priority was to end the bloodshed in the country, not to meet with the opposition face-to-face, as had occurred at the Geneva II conference with little success.
As the fighting between rebels and government troops continued Monday, four people were injured when Syrian troops seized control of a village near the strategic rebel bastion of Yabrud, edging closer to the border with Lebanon.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, said the army, backed by Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah, was “advancing” in the area, but that “fierce battles are still ongoing there.”
For nearly three weeks, the Yabrud area has come under intense, daily bombardment.
The battle for Yabrud is crucial for Hezbollah, which accuses rebels of using it as a gateway to sending car bombs to target its strongholds in eastern Lebanon and southern Beirut.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.