Israel’s army said Wednesday it had uncovered a unit recently created by Hezbollah across the cease-fire line in the Syrian Golan Heights and led by a commander previously jailed over an attack on U.S. forces.
With President Bashar Assad regaining control of southern Syria with the help of Russia and Hezbollah backer Iran, Israel is concerned that a front against it could be established there. Hezbollah, based in neighbouring Lebanon, has also been supporting Assad in the war.
Israel alleged the new unit, “masterminded” by Hezbollah, was being established “to eventually control teams of Syrian operatives who will launch attacks against Israel.”
“We are not going to allow Hezbollah to establish a terror infrastructure on the Golan capable of striking Israeli civilians,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, Israeli military spokesman.
“We hold the Syrian regime responsible for anything that happens inside Syria aimed at Israel.”
The army said the unit was in the establishment and recruitment stage and was not yet operational. It said it is led by Hezbollah commander Ali Musa Daqduq. In 2012, Daqduq was released by Iraq due to lack of evidence after being accused of plotting to kill five US soldiers in the Iraqi city of Karbala.
Daqduq was captured in 2007 on suspicion that he had helped organise a raid that led to the deaths of the five soldiers. He was held by American troops until he was handed over to Iraqi officials in December 2011.