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Israeli Arab paraglides to Syria to join rebel forces: army

Israel's military has said an Israeli Arab has flown across the border into war-torn Syria using a paraglider. The army reportedly suspects that the 23-year-old man is planning to join rebel fighters.

Late Saturday afternoon "a surveillance post identified an Israeli civilian entering Syrian territory using a paraglider," a military statement read.

The army did not provide any further information on the paraglider's condition.

Authorities initially feared that the paraglider was an Israeli amateur who had accidentally drifted from the occupied Golan Heights into Syrian territory and been captured by rebels.

Hebrew-language news site "ynet" reported on Sunday that the man was from the Arab village of Jaljulia northeast of Tel Aviv. It remains unclear exactly where the crossing took place.

Travel ban

Al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which supports the "Islamic State group" (IS) and is active in the Daraa area of southern Syria, addressed rumors on Saturday night and stated on its Facebook page that it had not taken an Israeli captive.

According to authorities, several dozen Israeli Arabs have joined rebels or IS in recent months, with some killed in combat. Although Israel is publicly neutral towards the four-year conflict in Syria, the government has banned citizens from traveling there. Saturday's flight would appear to be the first case of someone attempting to reach Syria from Israel by air since the ban was imposed.

ksb/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)

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