The Khalid ibn al-Walid militants are a jihadist group that pledged allegiance to ISIS in May of 2016. They launched surprise attacks on moderate rebel groups in February this year, capturing a town and several villages along the Syrian border.
Although Israel has maintained a strict non-interventionist policy in the Syrian war raging close to its borders, Ya'alon admitted during the interview that the IDF carried out several strikes against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces in retaliation for Syrian fire hitting the Israeli Golan Heights.
The IDF also engaged military targets in Syria, claiming that it was trying to stop the transfer of weapons from Iranian sources to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.
The IDF had, in the past, denied or refused to comment on allegations that its jets conducted airstrikes against convoys allegedly transporting Iranian weapons to Hezbollah. But, according to the Al Jazeera, Tel Aviv eventually admitted in March this year that it carried out airstrikes against military targets in Syria, ostensibly to stop the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah.
However, Tel Aviv has vehemently denied allegations by the government of Bashar al-Assad that Israel's attacks on military targets in Syria were designed to aid ISIS and other rebel groups.
"You can assume that these terrorists are fighting for Israel. If they aren't part of the regular Israeli army, they're fighting for Israel. Israel has common goals with Turkey, the United States, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries," Assad once said, according to YNet news.
"Israel is working on helping these terrorists... It attacks in one form or another to provide them with assistance, and to stop the Syrian army's momentum..."
"There was one case recently where Daesh opened fire and apologized," Ya'alon said, according to the Times of Israel.
When the Times of Israel asked Ya'alon to further clarify his statement, he refused to respond. A spokesperson for the former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, who later served as Defense Minister, also refused to explain the channels through which ISIS allegedly communicated its apology to Israel.
The IDF also declined to comment on the matter, according to the Times of Israel.
But analysts pointed out that Israeli law makes it illegal to communicate with terrorist groups, including ISIS. Thus, a situation where a former defense minister makes a statement suggesting that the IDF might have maintained communication channels with at least one ISIS group raises eyebrows, according to some observers.
But other analysts insisted that ISIS might have apologized only out of anxiety to ensure that Israel maintained its neutrality in the war.
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