Russia denies claims it removed Israeli top spy’s remains from Syria

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Israel’s national intelligence agency (“Mossad”) returned to Israel the wristwatch worn by late special agent Eli Cohen during his espionage work in Syria

Cohen’s daughter Sophie Ben Dror also denied the validity of the reports to i24NEWS

Russia denied on Wednesday Israeli media reports suggesting Russian operatives had exhumed the remains of former Mossad spy Eli Cohen from Syria. 

“We resolutely refute the fabrications of a number of Israeli media that Russian representatives allegedly removed from Syria the remains of Mossad agent Eli Cohen, who was executed in Damascus in 1965,” the Russia’s embassy in Israel said in a statement. 

The embassy responded to a report on Monday by Israel’s Channel 12 which said Syrian opposition groups claimed that a Russian team had exhumed the remains of former Mossad spy Eli Cohen, lauded in Israel as a national hero for the sacrifices he made for the benefit of public service.

“We call on Israeli partners, including journalists, to be very careful, professional and honest when addressing such sensitive issues. Responsibility for possible negative consequences of this provocation lies on its organizers and performers,” the Russian embassy concluded. 

Speaking to i24NEWS’ French service on Monday, Cohen’s daughter Sophie Ben Dror denied the validity of the reports.

Cohen, who posed under the alias Kamal Amin Ta’abet whilst spying in Syria, was a legendary Mossad agent from 1961 until 1965 until his real identity was revealed and he faced execution following a five-month trial. 

The former spy is acclaimed by many in Israel for providing unprecedented political and defense intelligence to the establishment, deemed as greatly assisting the Jewish state and said to have been particularly instrumental in the fledgling state’s success during the Six-Day war in 1967 under Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.

Despite decades of appeals from Cohen’s family to have his body returned to Israel, the status quo remained. 

Former Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad previously claimed he did not know the whereabouts of Cohen’s burial site. In an effort to prevent Israel from retrieving it, his remains were moved around several times.

The most recent reports of Cohen’s whereabouts emerge weeks after Russia assisted with the operation to return the remains of fallen soldier Zachary Baumel, nearly four decades after he was declared missing during the First Lebanon War in 1982. 

After 37 years of operation undertaken by Israel’s intelligence agencies to locate the body, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that it was his country, alongside Syrian troops who facilitated the return for burial.

In a separate plea, Israel reportedly asked Russia for its help in the effort to return Cohen. However, there has yet to be any news of its assistance in this case.

Up until now, the only remnant that had been returned to Israel was Cohen’s wristwatch, recovered by the Mossad last year and said to have been worn by the late special agent during his espionage work in Syria.

Source: i24News

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