Pictures of Syria's President Bashar Assad and Syrian flags burn
Rebels burn photo of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Photo by Reuters
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Israel prefers the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria to continue than see a takeover of the country by rebel Islamist militants, The Times of London reported Friday, quoting an Israeli intelligence official.

"Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos, and the extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there," the official said, according to the report.

According to the Times, the senior intelligence officer in the north of Israel said a weakened but stable Syria under Assad is not only better for Israel but for the region as a whole.

Another defense official was quoted saying it is more likely than initially estimated that Assad will remain in power.

“We originally underestimated Assad’s staying power and overestimated the rebels’ fighting power,” the source said.

The report in the Times comes a day after the United States said the Russian missile shipment to Syria will embolden Assad and prolong the conflict.