The Syrian opposition has responded to accusations from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that it has cooperated with Israeli forces, denouncing the claims as “absolutely incorrect.”
In a speech on Sunday commemorating the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon in 2000, Nasrallah said Syrian rebels had “political relations and meetings with the Israeli side,” and had engaged in “cooperation on the Golan borders, logistical aid, [weapon] fire aid and targets bombarded by the Israeli army for the benefit of the armed opposition.”
Hisham Marwah, a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “What Nasrallah said is absolutely incorrect. All that happened was the transfer of some humanitarian cases, who were aided by their families in the occupied Golan territory.”
A spokesman for the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, Col. Qasim Saad Al-Din, also criticized Nasrallah’s accusation of involvement with Israel, saying: “Assad is the guardian of the security of Israel.”
He added: “No secret or public meetings have been held with Israeli leaders, and if this took place, we would have announced it. [The] Syrian opposition deals with Israel as a usurper and occupier of Syrian land, and we will liberate it through negotiations with the UN.”
In the same speech, Nasrallah also said the Syrian government had turned a corner in its struggle against the rebels, and was making strides towards a decisive victory.
He said: “Syria and the axis of resistance are making headway. Syria is moving forward on the ground, in popular reconciliations, in the general mood and internal revision. Syria is proceeding towards presidential elections, and they [the others] are trying to obstruct the elections by the force of iron and fire.”
Marwah dismissed Nasrallah’s claims about the upcoming election, saying it was an “unbelievable farce,” and said: “The election turnout is known in advance and the participants are as fully known as the results.”
He added: “We have become used to the travesty of elections for 50 years, and they never expressed the will of the Syrian people, so how come they will do today while 10 million Syrians [have been] forced out of their homes?”
Marwah went on to characterize Nasrallah’s comments as “more of a motivational, inaccurate speech by a military commander seeking to encourage his fighters . . . [He] jumped to a declaration of a victory which did not occur to boost the morale of his fighters, while a realistic assessment of the situation shows a completely different picture.”
In 2012, Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah was fighting alongside government forces in Syria. Its members have reportedly played a key role in government offensives along the Lebanese border.
In a speech last August, he said: “If the battle with those terrorists needed me and all of Hezbollah to go to Syria, we will go for the sake of Syria and its people, for the sake of Lebanon and its people and for the sake of Palestine and Jerusalem.”