TEL AVIV – Syrians who are being persecuted by the Assad regime have expressed support for Saturday’s airstrikes by Israel in the embattled country, social media posts in the days since have shown.
A Twitter poll conducted by Faisal al-Qassem, a host on The Opposite Direction debate program on Al Jazeera, found that 56% of his followers, many of whom are Syrian, supported Israel over Iran.
لو اندلعت حرب (لو لو لو لو ) بين اسرائيل من جهة وإيران وميليشياتها في سوريا من جهة أخرى، من ستؤيد؟
— فيصل القاسم (@kasimf) February 10, 2018
One anonymous Syrian responded by saying that even though “no Syrian in his right mind would side with Israel against his native Syria” there are “millions of Syrians lining up with the blue devils [Israel] against the fascist sectarian [Assad] regime that has surpassed all the monsters on earth in killing Syrians.”
The Jerusalem Post cited a Syrian supporter of the opposition as saying that he hopes Israel will continue its retaliation against Iranian targets in Syria. “Everybody now, including me, is thinking that if Israel does not hit then it is afraid. One harsh hit at least,” he said. He added that he hoped to see Iran and Hezbollah “broken” by Israeli strikes.
“After the massive killing inflicted on civilians, the opposition and activists started to see Iran as the biggest enemy,” he said. “Syrians always compare between Israel and the Iranian-supported regime.”
He also noted that “Ahed Tamimi’s father is a regime supporter,” in reference to the Palestinian teenage girl who was caught on camera in December hitting and shouting at Israeli soldiers in a video that went viral. He said Syrian opposition members had begun asking, “If his daughter had been a Syrian, would she dare shout at a [Syrian] soldier?”
“She would be killed [by the regime] immediately,” he concluded.
According to the Syrian, Iran uses the regime to spread its message of hate towards Israel.
“It will incite hatred against Israel just to achieve its ideological dream and to keep the regime of clerics in power.”
“A lot of Arab youth are misled by these two evil regimes [Syria and Iran].”
He continued that if the opposition succeeded in overthrowing the Assad regime, the possibility of “normalization” with Israel could arise.
Ironicaly, jihadists in Syria too have expressed support for the Israeli strikes.
The former leader of al-Qaeda’s Syrian militia the Nusra front, Saleh Al-Hamwi, called on Israel to quickly “uproot” Iran from Syria.
“We welcome any Israeli aerial or naval bombardment against the [Syrian] regime and Iran in Syria. We urge them to do more. And we say to Israel: Your silence over Iran’s intervention in Syria will turn against you. It’s inevitable. Act with haste to uproot them,” he wrote on Twitter.
“[Iran] sent a drone and penetrated Israeli airspace with the prior knowledge that Israel would respond and bomb the launch site of the UAV,” he tweeted.
Al-Hamwi’s claim corresponds with a report by Israel’s Channel 10 that said the Jewish state had warned Iran, via European leaders, that it would strike if provoked.
Meanwhile, a Saudi named Mansour al-Khamis tweeted in Arabic to his 29,000 followers the claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is affiliated with Iran, the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.
“A happy day that Israeli planes bomb Hezbollah and Iran sites in Syria and other sites of the Bashar [Assad] regime,” he wrote.
The Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace early Saturday morning and remained there for a minute and a half before being downed by a combat helicopter. In response, Israel launched airstrikes on 12 Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, including three air-defense batteries and four Iranian targets such as the control center that launched the drone, marking what IAF Air Staff Commander Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar said was “the biggest and most significant attack the air force has conducted against Syrian air defenses since Operation Peace for the Galilee” in 1982 during the First Lebanon War.
Syria responded with a barrage of missiles that resulted in the downing of an Israeli F-16 in which two pilots were injured, one seriously and another lightly.