Israel, which does not comment on foreign reports, has remained silent on Mashour Zidan’s mysterious assassination. Hezbollah has also refrained from commenting and has not blamed Israel for the car-bombing.
The Hezbollah operative killed in Syria on Monday was part of the group’s clandestine “Golan File,” which aims to establish and entrench a covert force on the Syrian Golan Heights that is designed to act against Israel when given the order.
Mashour Zidan, a resident of the Druze village of Khadr on the Syrian Golan Heights, was killed after a bomb planted in his car exploded as he was driving near the town of Sasa in southern Syria.
While Syria’s official news agency SANA blamed his death on a bomb, Syrian opposition reports stated that he was killed in an airstrike by an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle.
Israel, which does not comment on foreign reports, has remained mum on his death. Hezbollah has also remained quiet and has not blamed Israel for the assassination.
According to the Lebanese news site al-Modon, Zidan was believed to have been killed fighting in Syria’s eastern Ghouta after he “mysteriously disappeared four months earlier.” But according to the report, Zidan had been summoned to Lebanon before he returned to Syria with a new identity.
His “mysterious” disappearance came around the time Israel announced that it uncovered Hezbollah’s Golan File network.
According to a report in Haaretz, Zidan was responsible for recruiting volunteers from villages near the border with Israel in order to gather intelligence about IDF movements and hide explosive devices, light weapons, machine guns and anti-tank missiles in their homes.
The Golan File has its headquarters in Damascus and Beirut, and there are dozens of operatives operating in the Syrian towns of Khadr, Quneitra and Erneh who collect intelligence on Israel and military movement on the Israeli Golan Heights.
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According to the IDF, the Hezbollah terrorists involved in the clandestine network focus on familiarizing themselves with the Syrian Golan Heights and on gathering intelligence on Israel and the border area. They are also working to establish intelligence-gathering capabilities against Israel, operating from civilian observation posts and regime military positions near the border.
Senior intelligence officers in the IDF’s Northern Command said that Hezbollah’s Golan File began in the summer, following the reconquering of the Syrian Golan by regime troops. Operatives involved in the file have weaponry available from the civil war, and if needed, will receive additional weaponry from Lebanon or existing arsenals kept by Hezbollah and Iran.
The IDF believes that the next war on the northern border will not be limited to one front, but will be fought along the entire northern border with both Lebanon and Syria. The military also expects that during the next war, Hezbollah will try to bring the fight to the home front by infiltrating Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in mid-July that the group had decreased the number of its fighters supporting the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, and had redeployed the troops to southern Lebanon as well as the Syrian Golan Heights.
Two days before Zidan was assassinated, the Daily Beast quoted several Hezbollah commanders saying that the majority of deployment has taken place on the Lebanese side of the border. The group has also bolstered its forces on the Syrian Golan Heights, bordering Israel.
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‘as a light unto the nations’