Syria civil war
A fighter from the Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra is seen in front of a burning vehicle during the Syrian civil war - Reuters

Israel is colluding with Iran and the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah to keep Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in power, says a rebel commander.

Abdulkader Saleh of the al-Tawhid group said that Assad had already lost the civil war but Iran and Hezbollah were continuing the fight opposition groups with the help of Israel.

The rebel group is one of the largest in Syria. Its nucleus is in Aleppo.

"Iran and Hezbollah are the ones who are continuing the war in Syria. Iran and Hezbollah are cooperating with Israel to be able to support Assad. Assad has protected Israel's border for 40 years," the opposition leader told the Turkey-based daily Today Zaman.

The latest Israeli attack proved this, he said. IDF jets struck an arms shipment bound for the rebels.

"The opposition was going to take over arms, so Israel attacked. There is evidence pointing to this. There were some high-ranking officers with whom [rebels] got into contact. [Those officers] were going to defect from, 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 defence systems. This assault, of course, was intended to support the Assad administration," he said.

Authorities in Tel Aviv confirmed unofficially that the Hezbollah-bound missile shipment was the target of the aerial bombardment. Israel generally does not divulge details of such operations.

Previously, Assad had accused Israel of aiding the rebels in the civil war.

The two-year uprising has fractured into a sectarian conflict. Assad belongs to the minority sect of Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, which has been confronting huge challenges from Sunni rebels. However, he has been strongly supported by Iran and Hezbollah, both Shiite-dominated.

"We will not allow that [to establish Alawite rule]. The Sunnis in the area will not allow it. That is why Assad's forces started performing ethnic cleansing in the area. The massacre in the Banias is one example of these efforts," said Saleh.