Syrian sources fume over claims Israel included vaccines in prisoner exchange deal

Source in Syria's opposition forces warns: 'Vaccines won't reach Syrian nation, they'll go to those loyal to Bashar al-Assad, and to his family.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad

Syrian opposition sources have criticized Israel following foreign reports that Israel bought Russian vaccines for Syrians as part of the recent prisoner exchange deal, reported Roi Kais of Channel 11 News.

A Syrian opposition source located in the north of that country told Kan News that "these vaccines will not reach the Syrian nation, but only those who are loyal to [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad, such as his gangs and the Assad family."

A Syrian officer who deserted the Assad government and is now in Turkey told Kan News that "if the vaccines go to the Syrian nation, and it's humanitarian, then you can't come out against it. But if it's a deal between [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and Assad, then it's disturbing because it gives the impression that Assad is working for the interests and health of the Syrian nation, and that's not true."

He also said that after all of Assad's "crimes," no one should be working with him.

"If only Israel would work together with civil organizations in Syria on the issue," he said. "There are four million Syrians in refugee camps on the northern border with Turkey. If this is a humanitarian issue, then Israel should ensure vaccines reach them."

A Syrian opposition source who is located in Europe was less critical, and told Kan News that what's important is that Israel continue its attacks in Syria, and that it is worth separating humanitarian issues such as this from political-security issues.

Earlier on Saturday, Syria's SANA state news agency reported that "no secret clause" about COVID-19 vaccines existed in the Syria-Israel prisoner exchange deal, and that the purpose of this claim "is to undermine the release of Syrian prisoners and blur the national and humanitarian side of the deal."

"Syria was clear about the exchange deal," the news agency said, emphasizing that the report "is an attempt to portray Israel as a humane state that does not occupy Arab land" or commit "crimes" "against Syrian, Lebanese, and "Palestinian" people.

Also on Saturday, Netanyahu says that Israel is not sending COVID-19 vaccines to Syria to secure the captured woman's release.

"Not one dose of vaccine has passed from Israel to Syria," he said. "We have brought the woman home."

"I thank Russian President [Vladimir] Putin, and at his request, I will say no more on the subject."