TEL AVIV – Israel has information that elements of the so-called Syrian rebels are seeking to establish cells to attack the Jewish state’s borders, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The security officials said the rebels are planning for future rounds of fighting should the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad collapse.
The officials divulged a series of meetings in recent days in Cairo between Israeli and Egyptian security officials in which Israel inquired about information on al-Qaida groups acting on the Syrian-Israeli borders.
Israel also asked Egypt to look into whether there is evidence of any collaboration between jihadist cells in the Egyptian Sinai and militias stationed near the Israeli-Syrian borders, the officials told WND.
According to information that Israel received from Saudi Arabia, there is evidence al-Qaida groups in Syria are forming new networks in preparation for future rounds of fighting if Assad falls, the officials said. The al-Qaida groups are studying how to establish cells to attack the Israeli borders.
The information follows reports of heavy fighting yesterday in an area between Damascus and the Israeli Golan Heights in what could become a new battlefront between Syrian troops and rebels uncomfortably close to the Jewish state’s borders.
Concern over Syrian rebels attacking Israel also comes amid reports of stepped-up U.S. support for those very rebels.
Quoting what it said were training participants and organizers, Der Spiegel reported Sunday it was not clear whether the Americans worked for private firms or were from the army, but the newspaper said some organizers wore uniforms.
The training in Jordan reportedly focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.
The magazine reported some 200 men received such training over the past three months with U.S. plans to provide training for a total 1,200 members of the Free Syrian Army in two camps in the south and the east of Jordan.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper also reported that U.S. trainers were aiding Syrian rebels in Jordan along with British and French instructors.
Reuters reported a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department declined immediate comment on the Der Spiegel report. The French foreign ministry and Britain’s foreign and defense ministries also would not comment to Reuters.
While Spiegel quoted sources discussing training of the rebels in Jordan over the last three months, WND was first to report about that training as far back as February 2012.
At the time, WND quoted knowledgeable Egyptian and Arab security officials claimed the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.
Any training of the Syrian rebels would be considered highly controversial. A major issue is the inclusion of jihadists, including al-Qaida, among the ranks of the Free Syrian Army and other Syrian opposition groups.
While the training has not yet been confirmed, Secretary of State John Kerry has been making the case for sending weapons to the Free Syrian Army. Also last week it was announced the U.S. would provide $60 million on nonlethal aid to the Syrian rebels.