Israel denies backing Nusra after Golan lynching
In a grisly incident on the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights last week, Druze villagers attacked an Israeli military ambulance, killing one of two Syrian casualties it was carrying. The attack was apparently retaliation for the Nusra Front massacre of Druze villagers in Syria a week earlier. Al-Monitor reports that the IDF has launched an aggressive "information campaign" to convince the Golan Druze that Israel is not backing the Nusra Front. Media reports (Reuters, Forward) have been vague on who the casualties in the ambulance actually were, but blogger Michael Karadjis identified the murdered patient as Munthir Khalil from the "Revolutionary Command Council in Quneitra and Golan," a wing of the Free Syrian Army's Southern Front. Karadjis emphasizes that the Southern Front months ago issued a declaration cutting off all cooperation with the Nusra Front, and offered refuge to fleeing villagers after the massacre. He calls the incident "deadly consequences" of the "fairy tale" that Israel is backing Nusra.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights meanwhile reported that US-led air-strikes targeted ISIS fighters battling Nusra Front for control of the northern town of Suran. The Observatory portrayed it as intervention on the side of Nusra. "It's the first time that the international coalition has supported non-Kurdish opposition forces fighting the Islamic State," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. (The report places the strikes in Aleppo governorate, although Suran is in Hama.) The US has previously carried out air-strikes against the Nusra Front and other Qaeda-aligned groups in Syria. The battle for Suran comes amid reports of clashes between ISIS and Qaeda-aligned forces in Libya as well as Syria.
ISIS and Nusra appear to be in a race to take Damascus. ISIS militants on June 10 blew up a pipeline feeding natural gas from eastern Syria to the suburbs of the capital. ISIS has previously sold oil to the Damascus regime, but now appears bent on denying it resources to hasten its collapse. (AFP, June 10)