The Israeli Defences Forces (IDF) announced yesterday that Hezbollah has established a network of terrorist cells in villages on the Syrian Golan Heights, close to the Israeli border.
The IDF said the Hezbollah operation, known as the ‘Golan File,’ recruited men from villages on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Israeli intelligence officials said that villagers were paid monthly wages, supplied with explosives, small arms and anti-tank missiles and were involved in gathering intelligence to prepare for attacks on Israel. The recruits were instructed that their ultimate objective would be to attack IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians.
Hezbollah commanders have reportedly been running this operation from Beirut, and according to Israeli officials, it has been kept secret from Syrian President Bashar Assad. The operation was driven by Hezbollah Secretary General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, while the network was commanded by Abu Hasin Sajed also known as Ali Musa Daqduq, a high ranking Hezbollah official who previously operated in Iraq and was responsible for the execution of five American soldiers there 12 years ago. The Telegraph reports that he was captured by the SAS in Basra in March 2007 and spent five years in prison. The Iraqi government released him in 2012 despite strong protests from the Obama White House. Israel’s military now says he has re-emerged in the Syrian Golan Heights where he is the leader of the Golan File. Commanders of the ‘Golan File’ travelled between Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut, Damascus and the Golan Heights.
Israeli intelligence sources said: “The infrastructure is still in its preliminary stages. Dozens of combatants from villages adjacent to the border have been recruited, especially from the Druze village of Khader. At this stage their main objective is to gather intelligence on the border, and we are able to see this activity on the ground.”
While the IDF has taken action to dismantle the network by publicly exposing its existence in the media across the world, Israel hopes the exposure will cause tensions between Nasrallah and President Assad, who will put an end to the project. While this is not the first time Hezbollah has attempted to create a military network on the Syrian Golan, the assassination of its two top commanders, Jihad Mughniyah in January 2015 and Samir Kuntar in December 2015, prompted Hezbollah to temporarily suspend those plans.