IDF Sources Doubt Syrian Group's Claims It's Holding MIA

Group devoted to 'liberating the Golan' says it will facilitate release of soldier in prisoner swap deal.

Military sources on Tuesday expressed some doubt to the credibility of a Syrian group's claim to be holding an Israel Defense Forces missing in action.

A Syrian organization devoted to "liberating the Golan Heights from Israel" claimed Tuesday that it could facilitate the release of an "Israeli soldier missing in action." In exchange, it demanded the release of Druze prisoners held by Israel, according to the Ynet Internet site.

The MIA in question, if there is one, is most likely Guy Hever, who has been missing since August 17, 1997. "Israel can't buy him from us with dollars; you know perfectly well what to do retrieve him," the statement said.

The credibility of the statement, issued by the Resistance Committees for the Liberation of the Golan Heights, is unclear. The organization is based in Syria and operates under the patronage of the Syrian government. Israeli security sources said that they had no other information on the statement and that its credibility "needs to be examined very thoroughly."

Leading members of the Druze community in the Golan Heights voiced skepticism about the statement, saying they did not believe that the organization was in fact holding Hever.

Rather, they suggested, the statement was aimed at drawing attention to Wednesday's planned demonstration on the Golan, which will commemorate the first Druze mass demonstration against Israel's annexation of the Heights 25 years ago.