A serving Syrian diplomat, trusted by the Assad regime, has been passing intelligence material to Israel and to the United States, an Israeli TV station reported on Thursday night.
The information that has reached Israel includes details of the means by which Iran has been channeling arms on land and sea via Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Channel 10 News reported.
The intelligence information is being transferred via a reliable intermediary, the report said. Israeli recipients include a minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a Knesset member with a background in the security establishment, it added.
Though trusted by Damascus, the diplomat is actually a firm supporter of the Syrian opposition, the report said, and his activities are part of wider efforts at contact between Syrian opposition figures and Israel.
The TV report came on the same day as a far more overt display of disloyalty to President Bashar Assad: A Syrian fighter pilot on a training mission flew his MiG-21 warplane to Jordan and asked for political asylum, the first defection of an air force pilot with his plane during the 15-month uprising against Assad.
Jordan was reported to have agreed to let the pilot, Col. Hassan Hammadeh, remain in the country on “humanitarian grounds.”
“He was given asylum because if he returned home, his safety will not be guaranteed. He may tortured or killed,” an official said, according to AP.
Syria was reported to have demanded that the Jordanians return the plane. The Syrian state-run news agency quoted an unnamed military official as branding Hammadeh “a traitor to his country and his military honor.”