‘Israel wants to keep Assad in power,’ FSA claims

‘Israel wants to keep Assad in power,’ FSA claims
Israel is protecting Syrian President Bashar Assad as he is undermining the government’s national security and Israel wants Syria to become a weak state, Free Syrian Army Joint Command spokesman Fahd al-Masri told RT Arabic.

Israel allegedly launched two airstrikes on Syria in the past days. The strikes were reportedly targeting a missile shipment to a Lebanese-based Hezbollah group. Following that on Sunday Israel declared a state of alert for its embassies, consulates, and missions around the world and deployed a rocket defense system in the north of the country. The Syrian government accuses Israel of supporting armed opposition groups as the country’s civil war has entered its third year.

RT:Mr. Fahd, some Syrian officials say you work together with Israel to overthrow the Assad regime. Does this new Israeli attack support such accusations?

Fahd al-Masri: No, this situation proves quite the opposite – the accusations are false. This recent attack has nothing to do with the Syrian revolution, it was not in support of the Syrian people. The war is between the people and the regime. There is a war waging in Syria. What happened yesterday is one of the battles of this war. The Syrian regime took upon itself international obligations and violated a number of them when it started the war against its own people. Now it is trying to change the balance of powers in the region. We think that what is happening right now has to do with the chemical weapons. The Assad regime uses them as leverage to make the international community withdraw support from the Syrian revolution.

RT:What does the Free Syrian Army think about the Israeli attack?

FM: This is obviously an attack on Syria aimed at taming Assad. Bashar Assad has crossed a new line. This is a new level in the crimes of the Syrian regime, its irresponsible behavior and cynicism. Of course, this is an act of aggression against Syrian territories, it’s unacceptable. Obviously, those who organized the operation had their own objective, and they hit their target with surgical precision. This was not in support of the Syrian people.

Israel and the Syrian regime disagree on some key strategic issues. Israel strongly disapproves of Assad’s violations. And we don’t like the fact that Bashar Assad and his regime are now positioning themselves as a victim of the Israeli aggression.

Bashar Assad is trying to intimidate Israel by pressuring the international community, in order to stay in power. But the recent Israeli attack could be viewed from another angle as well. Yesterday’s airstrike was the third incident of violation of the Syrian national sovereignty, not an attack on the regime.

Israeli infantry soldiers of the Golani brigade take part in exercises during their deployment in the Israeli annexed Golan Heights, near the border with Syria, on May 6, 2013 (AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)

RT:As you said, this was the third incident already. But Syria can respond. If the Syrian army and its allies respond and start a war in the region, which side will the Syrian opposition support?

FM: Bashar Assad will not respond. There is a close connection between the attack and what the regime is doing.

RT:Some say that Israel supports the Syrian opposition…

FM: Absolutely not! Israel has been protecting the Syrian regime from falling for the last two years. The decision about Bashar Assad was made in Tel-Aviv. That’s why the Syrian regime has not been overthrown yet, even though it’s been two years since the Syrian revolution started. The international community is refusing to get involved, and Israel is mobilizing Jewish lobby all over the world.

RT:You mentioned one important thing. The decision to overthrow Bashar Assad was made in Tel-Aviv. So what do you expect them to do? Do you think they will keep bombing Syria until the regime falls?

FM: No. Israel still wants to see Bashar Assad in power. If Israel wanted to occupy Syria it wouldn’t be destroying it, like Assad is doing right now. Israel wants to keep Assad for now, because he is making his army weak and undermining Syria’s national and territorial integrity. Israel will be happy to see Syria become a weak state, unable to rise for several decades. That’s why Israel still wants to see Assad in power. But when the begin to see him as a threat to their national security, they will stop protecting him.

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on May 5, 2013, shows a chicken walking on the "the damage caused by an Israeli strike" according to SANA (AFP Photo)

RT:Israel wants Syria to be a weak state, so they want Syrians to destroy their own country and what is your role?

FM: Israel is pushing the Syrian regime in that direction, because Assad thinks that this silence from the international community gives him the green light, allowing him to destroy the country.

RT:You represent one of the sides in the conflict. You refused to have a dialogue. What is your role in the crisis?

FM: We are not a side in this crisis. We are the side that defends our people who are being murdered, our cities that are being destroyed. Who would be on the other side of that dialogue? Bashar Assad, who is bombing Syrian cities, damaging our national and territorial integrity? Unfortunately, at this point there is no basis for a dialogue with the Syrian regime. Bashar Assad and 55 of his officials who are responsible for the crimes have to be removed. And only after that we can start a dialogue with those who have nothing to do with the crimes against the Syrian people, those who didn’t form alliances with Iran and Hezbollah.