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Israeli Reports: Cohen’s Remains are in Cave Near Syria’s Qardaha

Israeli Reports: Cohen’s Remains are in Cave Near Syria’s Qardaha

Saturday, 20 April, 2019 - 06:15
Israeli spy Eli Cohen. (AFP)
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat
The remains of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who was executed in Damascus in 1965, were buried in a mountain cave near the city of Qardaha in the Latakia province, the birthplace of head of the Syrian regime Bashar Assad, reported the Israeli Maariv daily Friday.

The newspaper said the information was delivered by an Arab source, who spoke with a high-ranking official from the Assad regime.

“In 1977, late former President Hafez Assad ordered the transfer of the body of Cohen from where it was buried to another place, after the Israeli intelligence Mossad agency carried out a serious attempt to search for his remains in several graves in the Syrian territories,” the Syrian official told the Arab source, according to Maariv.

The official said that in 1977, a Mossad team had reached Damascus and started digging up the graves, but failed to discover the whereabouts of Cohen’s body.

“The Israeli army sparked a battle with the Syrian military on the Jordanian-Syrian border to cover up the Mossad’s activities in Damascus,” the official revealed.

He added that at that time, Hafez Assad ordered that Cohen’s body be transferred to a “safe area”, tasking the secret mission to three of his loyal soldiers, who had served in the Presidential Guards.

“Two of the soldiers passed away, while the third is now in his eighties,” the source said.

He explained that in addition to the three soldiers, two persons knew about the mission: Former Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass and Syrian General Mohammed Suleiman, a key aide to Assad and a liaison officer with the Lebanese Hezbollah party. Suleiman was assassinated in Syria’s Tartus in 2008.

Earlier this week, the Israeli Jerusalem Post daily claimed that Cohen’s remains were being transferred from Syria to Israel.

Later, several Israeli media reports said a Russian delegation left Syria with a coffin containing the remains.

The Russian Foreign Ministry put out a statement Wednesday "resolutely refuting" the claim, which it described as a "provocation." It urged the Israeli media to show a more "accurate, professional and honest approach to coverage of such sensitive issues."

Cohen infiltrated the top echelons of Syria's leadership in the early 1960s and obtained top-secret intelligence before he was caught and publicly executed in 1965.

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