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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Sep 22nd
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Analysis arrow UPDATE - Sniper “Takes Out” Syrian General Connected to Hezbollah
UPDATE - Sniper “Takes Out” Syrian General Connected to Hezbollah PDF Print E-mail
Written by W. Thomas Smith, Jr.   
Thursday, 07 August 2008

W. Thomas Smith, Jr.
W. Thomas Smith, Jr.


(Aug 3): A sniper’s bullet has reportedly “taken out” Syrian Army Brig. Gen. Mohammed Suleiman, purportedly a close aide to Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad and the senior liaison between Damascus and Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

Reports are sketchy, but the assassination is said to have taken place sometime last week in Tartus (Tartous), a coastal town in northwest Syria, and the body was discovered in a hotel “Friday night-Saturday morning.”

According to a report published in The Media Line (referencing the Jordanian news agency Al-Bawaba as its source): Suleiman “was shot dead as he walked on the seashore in Tartous. The shooter managed to escape by sea.”

This information has not been independently verified.

According to Reuters:

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian authorities on the reports. Syria is a tightly controlled state with powerful police and intelligence services. High-ranking officers hold senior state positions and are at times involved in rivalries and power struggles.

UPDATE (Aug 4): Assassinated Syrian Army Brig. Gen. Mohammed Suleiman, 49, simply "knew too much," according to news reports published today.

Suleiman, considered to be "the closest person to [Syrian Pres.] Bashar al-Assad and is his [al-Assad's] right hand in the armed forces" -- according to an unnamed Syrian official speaking to the Saudi Arabia-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper (as quoted in the Jerusalem Post) -- had "all the files; security, financial and [army] reform." He was a member of the Shiia Alawite sect, allied to Hezbollah (and as previously mentioned, Suleiman was the official liaison between Syria and Hezbollah).

Multiple theories are floating about as to who killed Suleiman and why:

Israel has been accused of the assassination, but denies any involvement. The Syrian government has been accused of the killing for various reasons ranging from Suleiman's knowledge of Syria's nuclear secrets to who actually assassinated Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Another theory has to do with possible Hezbollah infighting.

Most reports indicate the assassination was a professional hit by a sniper aboard a yacht who nailed the Syrian officer as he strolled along the beach.

UPDATE (Aug 5): Asharq al-Awsat is today reporting (according to one of its Syrian sources) that Suleiman was:

"...a graduate of the School of Engineering. He has been with Bashar [al-Assad] since he assumed power and began his political career. Formerly, he was Basil al-Assad's [the late brother of the Syrian president] companion and friend and they graduated from the same class in the army. The relationship between them is strong. He is not related to the Al-Assad family by marriage but is married to a woman from Dayr al-Zawr. He was active and in his mid-forties and a member of the Alawite sect. He was trusted by Basil and later trusted by Bashar."

Asharq al-Awsat's source continues:

"By virtue of his position, he was much more powerful than his military rank. He had no political ambitions to form any political bloc because his position was more important than that. He was more important than the defense minister."

UPDATE (Aug 7): TIME magazine is today reporting that the "mysterious assassination" of Suleiman may not have been (as has been previously reported) by a sniper positioned offshore:

"Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman, 49, was shot dead last Friday at his chalet in the Rimal al-Zahabieh luxury resort nine miles north of the port city of Tartous on the Mediterranean. Press reports in the Arab world claimed that the assassin had fired the shots from a boat out at sea, thus evading security at the prestigious holiday resort regularly frequented by top regime figures. Some analysts, however, suspect that the killer fired from close range — they note the fact that Suleiman was hit in the head, neck and stomach, and also the difficulty of firing that accurately from a bobbing boat."

Suleiman -- sometimes referred to by friends as "the imported general ... because of his fair complexion and foreign looks" --  was "buried Sunday home village of Draykish, 15 miles east of Tartous."

Not surprisingly, the Syrian government did not officially confirm the assassination until yesterday: three days after the funeral.

— Visit W. Thomas Smith Jr. online at uswriter.com.

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