The Syrian government extended the authority of the army to respond to “Israeli aggression” immediately and without prior governmental authorization, and granted Palestinian factions leave to carry out attacks against Israel on the Golan Heights, a Syrian government daily reported on Tuesday.
According to Al-Watan, the Syrian army has compiled a “target bank” inside Israel that will be showered by missiles immediately in case of another Israeli strike on Syria. The daily also quoted “high-ranking sources” who said that Syria was willing to provide the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah with “all types of weapons, including new and quality weapons not previously provided.”
Moreover, the Syrian leadership has granted permission to Palestinian factions to “carry out operations against Israel from the Golan.” The daily did not specify who these factions were or what operations they might carry out.
Dozens of elite Syrian troops were said to have been killed in Sunday morning’s strikes against two military sites near Damascus, the third alleged Israeli attack in three months. But despite Syria’s bellicose rhetoric, Israeli officials spoke of “a low likelihood” of a Syrian military retaliation.
A spokesman for a Palestinian terror group in Syria confirmed Tuesday that it received a nod from President Bashar Assad’s regime to attack Israel following recent Israeli airstrikes.
Anwar Raja of the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said the regime had given “a green light” for the group “to attack Israeli targets” from the Syrian-controlled part of Golan Heights.
Raja did not elaborate on how the alleged approval was conveyed to PFLP-GC fighters but he stressed that there was no official government note. The Palestinian official spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday. Most Palestinians in Syria have remained on the sidelines of the 2-year-old conflict, but PFLP-GC has fought alongside government troops against the rebels trying to topple Assad.
In June 2011, the Syrian government allowed hundreds of Palestinians to storm the border with Israel, heeding an Internet campaign for “a third Palestinian intifada.” Four men were killed by IDF fire after breaching the border, and many others entered the Druze town of Majdal Shams on the Golan, with one man even hitching rides as far as his mother’s hometown of Jaffa.
The Syrian government has often been criticized by citizens for preventing Palestinian gunmen from infiltrating Israel and carrying out attacks.
On Monday and Tuesday, three mortar shells from Syria fell in the southern Golan Heights. They were believed to have been fired as part of the ongoing clashes between government and rebel forces on the Syrian side of the border, rather than launched deliberately at Israel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.