April 5 2013 The military wing of Hamas, a former ally of President Assad, is training the rebel Free Syrian Army in eastern Damascus. Diplomatic sources said that members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades were training FSA units in the rebel-held neighbourhoods of Yalda, Jaramana and Babbila. The development appears to confirm that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, has made a final break with its former Syrian host and fully embraced the patronage of Qatar, the small but influential Gulf state that is a major financial and logistical backer of some rebel factions. “The Qassam Brigades have been training units very close to Damascus. These are specialists. They are really good,” said a Western diplomat with high-level contacts in the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition who visits Damascus regularly. Other sources suggested that Hamas trainers were helping the FSA to dig tunnels beneath at least one contested area of Damascus in preparation for a widely expected assault on the city centre. Hamas has extensive experience in tunnel-building in Gaza, to smuggle goods in from Egypt and to infiltrate Israel or launch attacks against Israeli targets. A Palestinian source from Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp said that it was common knowledge that a few hundred Hamas militants were fighting alongside the FSA in the Yarmouk and Neirab Palestinian camps in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital.
A post from November 2012 reported on the closing of the Damascus office of the Hamas political leadership.
The Hamas charter states that it is ” is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and an early media report indicated that shortly after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives were present to review Hamas military formations . In 2007, a Hamas journalist acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons and in 2008, an Israeli TV station reported that Muslim Brotherhood “representatives” had traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the open border to meet with Hamas. Hamas is supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood and a NEFA Foundation report has documented the Hamas fund-raising activities of the Union of Good, a coalition of Islamic charities linked to the Brotherhood that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. Previous posts have also discussed the worldwide campaign orchestrated by the global Brotherhood against Israeli actions in Gaza during the 2008-2009 conflict with Israel.