Syria's opposition coalition meeting in Istan
Syria's opposition coalition meeting in IstanAFP photo

A commander in the Syrian opposition said on Sunday that President Bashar al-Assad's regime has been defeated, but accused Israel of collaborating to keep Assad in power, the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reports.

The commander, Abdulkader Saleh of the al-Tawhid Brigade, said the Assad regime does not have the strength to carry on its battle against opposition fighters, adding that Iran and Hizbullah are the forces behind the protracted war.

“Iran and Hizbullah are the ones who are continuing the war in Syria,” Saleh was quoted as having told the Cihan news agency, adding that the war is between the Syrian people and Iran and the Shiite terror group. The al-Tawhid Brigade is one of the largest opposition groups operating in Aleppo.

“Iranians see Syria as the 35th province of [their country]. … Many Iranian authorities have voiced this as well. It is obvious that Iran and Hizbullah are also included in the Syrian war. … The fact that Hizbullah has begun offensives in Idlib's al-Kusair region is evidence of this,” said Saleh.

He then he hinted about a cooperation between Iran and Israel for Assad's victory.

“Furthermore, Iran and Hizbullah are cooperating with Israel to be able to support Assad. Assad has protected Israel's border for 40 years,” said the al-Tawhid Brigade commander, according to Today’s Zaman.

“The opposition was going to take over arms, so Israel attacked,” he added, referring to recent alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria. “There is evidence pointing to this. There were some high-ranking officers with whom [the opposition forces] got into contact. [Those officers] were going to defect from [the Assad administration], handing over arms to the opposition. Israel hit these posts in fear that the opposition would take over the arms.”

“The arms included heavy artillery as well as air defense systems. This assault, of course, was intended to support the Assad administration,” Saleh explained.

Recent reports in a Saudi daily indicated that over 1,000 Hizbullah members had entered Syria over a period of a few days via waterways in the Mediterranean Sea.

Last July, as the ongoing civil war in Syria continued, the terror group led by Hassan Nasrallah publicly offered to place itself at Assad’s disposal.

But already several months earlier, a soldier from the Free Syrian Army told The Independent newspaper, published in the UK, that Hizbullah's Shiite Muslim terrorists are full military allies of the Syrian army and that "everyone knows they have fighters there."

Rejecting claims that opposition forces had used chemical weapons in Syria, Saleh said Assad's regime has used toxic substances many times.

“[Chemical weapons] have been used in Damascus's Ghouta, Homs and now in Aleppo's Khan al-Assal region. These attacks indicate the regime's demise,” said the opposition commander, according to Today’s Zaman.

He denounced the international community, the EU and the U.S.'s indifference to chemical weapons use. “This shows the international community's cooperation with Assad's regime,” he added.

Stressing that their fight is not sectarian, Saleh said the opposition forces do not want to be referred to as “opponents.”

“We are a nation defending itself in an effort to get rid of this oppressive regime. Our fight is a fight for freedom and liberty,” he added.