Syria says it captured Israeli weapons from rebels

Regime forces say they foiled attack near Idlib by fighters carrying foreign passports

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A member of the Free Syrian Army takes aim during weapons training outside Idlib, Syria, (photo credit: AP)
A member of the Free Syrian Army takes aim during weapons training outside Idlib, Syria, (photo credit: AP)

The Syrian army said it thwarted an attack by a group of rebels carrying Israeli weapons and foreign passports near the town of Idlib on Tuesday.

According to a Wednesday report from state-run news agency SANA, armed forces were engaged in operations against what it termed “terrorist dens” in the area around Idlib where, in addition to killing and injuring several fighters, soldiers also seized Israeli arms.

A group of gunmen attacked an army checkpoint in the village of al-Hamidyeh but were defeated by forces in the area that killed and injured most of its members. The army said most of the fighters carried foreign passports and that they were armed with Israeli weapons and ammunition.

The report did not specify what kinds of weapons and ammunition were seized, or where the fighters were from.

In the past there have been several reports by the Syrian army and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad that rebel fighters were equipped with Israeli hardware.

In June Hezbollah television channel al-Manar claimed Israeli ammunition was found in the Syrian battle zone border town of Qusair, but the IDF was quick to explain that the “bombs” were non-lethal flares and dated back to before Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in the year 2000.

Al-Manar also claimed that Uzi guns, missiles, gas masks, and communication devices were found in the town, which was seized from rebel groups by forces loyal to Assad. The report seemed designed to underline Assad and Hezbollah claims that Israel was directly aiding rebel forces, a claim Israel staunchly denies.

Regime-linked Syrian news outlets reported in May that the Syrian army had captured an IDF jeep from rebels during heavy fighting in a town on the Lebanese border, touting the find as proof that Jerusalem was aiding the rebel forces. According to SANA, Syrian troops found the jeep during fighting in Qusair and claimed the jeep held advanced Israeli surveillance and jamming equipment.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson told The Times of Israel at the time that, based on the identification number seen in footage of the vehicle, the jeep had belonged to the now-defunct South Lebanon Army, and had been out of commission for more than a decade.

The SLA was supported by Jerusalem with weapons and equipment during Israel’s occupation of the so-called “security zone” in southern Lebanon from 1982 to 2000. The force quickly fell apart after Israel pulled out, with Hezbollah filling the power vacuum in the area.

Elhanan Miller contribured to this report.

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