TEL AVIV – Attempting to take advantage of regional developments capturing Russia’s attention, Saudi Arabia in recent days has massively stepped up its support for the jihadists fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The officials said the Saudis have been pumping large quantities of advanced weapons to the so-called rebels, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. More fighters are infiltrating Syria from the Daraa region of Jordan with Saudi help, said the officials.
Instructions have been given to the jihadists to attempt to reach Damascus from several fronts.
Already, the sources say, the newly armed opposition hit two Syrian military helicopters, one near the Golan Heights and the other outside Damascus.
In addition, Syrian tanks have been taking hits from the anti-tank missiles.
The successful implementation of the anti-aircraft missiles has prompted the Syrian military to rely more on Syrian aircraft, with some Syrian warplanes flying close to the Israeli border for the first time since 1974, according to the informed security officials.
Due to the political upheaval in Ukraine and Russia’s hosting of the Olympics this month, there has been a feeling among opposition that it can score important points on the ground, the officials said, pointing out that Assad relies heavily on Russian support.
Syria is not taking the latest rebel surge lying down. Opposition activists say Syrian air raids on rebel-held towns across the country killed 26 people yesterday. Fighting has also raged near the Golan Heights on the Syrian side of the border with Israel.