Israel covertly provided arms and funds to at least 12 Syrian rebel groups, Foreign Policy magazine reports, in order to prevent Iran-backed forces and Islamic State jihadists from setting up shop in the border area.
Israeli support included paying rebel fighters a salary of some $75 a month and providing them with weapons and other materials, the report says.
According to Foreign Policy, Israel began arming groups tied to the rebel Free Syrian Army in 2013 and ramped up its support last year amid growing concerns over Iran’s military presence in Syria.
The magazine reports that this led to an expectation among rebel groups that Israel would intervene in a regime offensive in southern Syria, leading to deep disappointment when Israel stood on the sidelines as Syrian forces captured areas bordering the Israeli Golan Heights this summer.
“This is a lesson we will not forget about Israel. It does not care about … the people. It does not care about humanity. All it cares about it its own interests,” the report quotes a fighter Forsan al-Jolan as saying.