Reports: Syrian refugees cheer Israeli air strikes

Tuesday, May 07, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

Syrian refugees from that country's ongoing civil war are reportedly cheering Israel's weekend air strikes on bases belonging to embattled dictator Bashar Assad, saying that the Jewish state has the "balls" to do what the other Arabs and the West won't.

Clarissa Ward, a correspondent for CBS News who has spent a lot of time of late in rebel-held parts of Syria, posted Sunday to her Twitter account about an "unlikely sight: Syrian refugees cheer Israel, or rather Israeli strikes near Damascus. 'They have the balls to do what no Arab country will.'"

Ward later cited a Syrian rebel who said that "now no Syrian man hates Israel... we believe now that Israel is better and kinder than our regime." Though the reporter pointed out that not all responses to Israel's air strikes have been positive.

NBC News also confirmed that at least some Syrians "have cheered Israel's strikes against Syrian government facilities."

Early Tuesday morning a mortar shell from Syria landed in the Israeli Golan Heights, sparking fears that the Syrian regime was beginning a promised retaliation for the earlier air strikes. But Israeli army officials later reported that the shell was likely an errant shot.

Though many Israelis are rushing to update their gas masks as tensions rise in the north, the prevailing view is that Assad would rather absorb any pinpoint Israeli strikes than go to war with the Jewish state. In the event of a full-scale war, Israel would target and destroy Syria's air force and missile stockpiles, taking away the only real advantage Assad has over rebel groups.

According to Israel's Yediot Ahronot, Jerusalem is also trying to calm the situation by transmitting messages to Assad via a third party, assuring the Syrian leader that the air strikes had everything to do with preventing Hezbollah from getting stronger, and nothing to do with toppling the Syrian regime.

Israel remains divided on the best course of action in Syria. While no one is happy with the Iran-backed, Hezbollah-allied regime of Bashar Assad, allowing Syria to fall into the hands of radical Sunni jihadist groups wouldn't help the situation.

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