On April 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry released an official statement denouncing Israeli media reports that Russian representatives had departed Syria with a coffin containing the remains of Israel’s most famous spy, Eli Cohen. The Russian ministry described these reports as an example of disinformation.
Cohen operated in Syria under the alias Kamel Amin Thaabet in the period from 1962 to 1965. He established relations with top Syrian political and military officials, and provided information about the Syrian Arab Air Force and military positions on the Golan Heights. the Syrian intelligence managed to uncover Cohen and arrested him on January 24 of 1965 while he was transmitting coded information to Israel. On 18 May 1965, Cohen was publicly hanged in the Marjeh Square in Damascus.
Earlier in April, Israel recovered the remains of Zachary Baumel, a U.S.-born Israeli soldier missing since a 1982 tank battle against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Russian and Syrian forces played an important role in the recovery of the remains, according to President Vladimir Putin.
This development most likely became a basis for further rumors about the Israeli-Russian cooperation overe the remains of Cohen.