An Israeli airstrike on a regime airbase outside Damascus last week targeted a convoy of chemical weapons en route to the Shiite terror group Hezbollah, a Syrian opposition figure said Sunday.
Fahed al-Masri also told Israel Radio that Islamic State, Hezbollah and Iranian militants would continue to advance on the Syrian-Israeli border as long as President Bashar Assad remains in power.
Al-Masri, the spokesman for the National Salvation Front in Syria, told the radio station that his faction was not seeking Israeli military support in its battle to oust Assad, walking back a reportedly unpopular public appeal for IDF assistance last week.
In keeping with its policy of not officially admitting to carrying out strikes deep inside Syria, the army on Sunday declined to comment on the strike or its intended target, though Israel has publicly maintained it will not allow advanced weapons to be transferred to Hezbollah.
In a rare but unspecific acknowledgement, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday admitted that Israel was responsible for “what was done in Syria,” saying recent strikes were designed to keep “advanced weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction” from reaching Hezbollah.
Speaking to European Union ambassadors, the defense minister insisted that Israel was not interested in getting involved in the Syrian civil war, but would act to “defend the safety of our citizens and to protect our sovereignty.”
Al-Masri’s remarks to Israel Radio come days after he publicly urged the IDF to extend military assistance to Syrian rebels, asserting that an Assad-free Syria would be good for Israel.
“You must understand the establishment of an Alawite state on Sunni soil is not in your interest. Your interest is a united Syria,” he said in filmed remarks posted to the faction’s social media pages and translated by Channel 2.
If Assad is defeated, al-Masri claimed, the new Syrian government would naturalize Palestinian refugees within its borders and semi-recognize the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights.
He also made an appeal for assisting Syrian rebels on humanitarian grounds. Al-Masri said that as Jews who have suffered the Holocaust, Israel must understand that genocide is taking place in Syria.
According to Channel 2, al-Masri’s call for cooperation with Israel sparked outrage in the Arab world.