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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Monday
Nov 18th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Report: Syria arrests suspects in murder of Hezbollah liaison
Report: Syria arrests suspects in murder of Hezbollah liaison PDF Print E-mail
Written by Yoav Stern, Haaretz, Ynet, Times, Agencies   
Monday, 18 August 2008

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Damascus security forces arrest two naval officers, hotel security chief in connection with murder of Syria's liaison officer to Hizbullah

Syria has apprehended a number of suspects believed linked to the assassination of a senior military official, the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Tuesday.

Syria on Monday remained silent on the murder of Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman, who was killed by a sniper Friday night. Suleiman was President Bashar Assad's right-hand man, yet no government or state news media have reported the killing, which has been covered by foreign and Arab news sources and Syrian exile media.

Contrary to various speculation, Israel denied any involvement in the murder, Sky News reported on Monday.
 
Assad is vacationing in Turkey after a two-day visit in Iran.

The Turkish news agency Anatolia reported on Monday that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to visit Assad at the Aegean resort of Bodrum today.

Turkish officials reported that Israel and Syria are to hold another round of indirect talks later this month. This will be the first round after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced his intention to resign. Syria has not said what course of action it would take after Olmert. However, Damascus is closely following the announcements of the politicians contending for Kadima's leadership on this issue.

A Syrian source told Asharq Al-Awsat, which is published in London, that "the Syrian regime is in a difficult and complicated situation."

The newspaper says Suleiman was in charge of financing and arming the Syrian army. The source confirmed the report that Suleiman was the liaison between the Syrian government and Hezbollah and in charge of other defense portfolios in Assad's bureau.

"All the sensitive defense portfolios passed through Suleiman first," the source reportedly said.

The source dismissed the speculation that intrigue in the Syrian leadership had led to Suleiman's murder. He said Suleiman, who was very close to Assad, was more influential than the defense minister and chief of staff.

Sky News reported on Monday that Israel denied any responsibility for the murder.

"To the best of my knowledge we didn't do it," an Israeli source told Sky News. "Look, it's outside the rules. Of course, assassinations take place, but to hit a general in his own country is close to an act of war and we just don't want a war with Syria. We are busy talking to them," the source said.

Another source said: "An Iranian spy might be killed in Lebanon, a Hezbollah guy in Syria, but not a Syrian in Syria with a sniper."

"The sniper might miss, he might get caught, there would have to be retaliation and neither side wants to get caught up in that game," he said.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1008709.html

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Syria arrests suspects in Suleiman assassination

Damascus security forces arrest two naval officers, hotel security chief in connection with murder of Syria's liaison officer to Hizbullah

Roee Nahmias Published:  08.12.08, 13:08 / Israel News 

Syrian security forces arrested several suspects in the assassination of Mohammed Suleiman, a senior aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad, earlier this month, the Syrian opposition's website reported Tuesday.

Suleiman was gunned down in the Syrian port city of Tartous some two weeks ago.

According to internet reports, Syrian security forces arrested two naval officers, in ranks analogous to colonel and major, and are holding them for questioning in connection with the assassination.

Several employees of the hotel Suleiman was staying in at the time of his assassination were also arrested, including the hotel's chief of security.
 
According to reports, Suleiman was acting as Syria's liaison officer to Hizbullah at the time of his murder. He reportedly supplied the Shiite group with Russian-made SI-8 Missiles, which have the ability to limit IAF surveillance flights in Lebanese skies.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3581365,00.html

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Syria arrests suspects, including naval officers, in Suleiman murder

Who Killed Suleiman?

Syrian security forces arrested several suspects in the assassination of Mohammed Suleiman, 49, a top aide to Syrian President Bashar Assad, earlier this month, the Syrian opposition's website reported Tuesday.

Suleiman was killed in the Syrian port city of Tartous several days ago. Besides being a top advisor to President Assad, he also served as Syria's liaison officer to Nasrallah's Lebanon Hizbullah group. Reports said he was shot dead by a sniper.

According to reports, Syrian security authorities arrested two naval officers, in ranks analogous to colonel and major, and are holding them for questioning in connection with the assassination.

Several employees of the hotel Suleiman was staying in at the time of his assassination were also arrested, including the hotel's chief of security.

http://secret-ice.blogspot.com/2008/08/syria-arrests-suspects-including-naval.html

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Did Israel Kill Key Syrian Aide?
 
Recently assassinated Muhammed Suleiman had been the Syrian leader in charge of supplying anti-aircraft missiles to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Suleiman was Bashar al-Assad’s personal mentor. He was shot in the head while sitting in his garden. According to Times of London Sources, Suleiman was killed by Israel to send a message to the Syrian regime that they better stop giving arms to Hezbollah... AND NOW:
Slain Syrian aide supplied missiles to Hezbollah

Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv
A KEY aide to the Syrian president who was assassinated last weekend in mysterious circumstances had been supplying Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, according to Middle Eastern sources.

Once operative, the mobile missiles will threaten the dominance of the Israeli air force over Lebanon.

The assassinated aide, Brigadier-General Muhammad Suleiman, 49, was “more important than anyone else”, wrote the London-based Saudi paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat last week: “He was senior even to the defense minister. He knew everything.”

He was killed by a single shot to the head as he sat in the garden of his summer house near the northern port city of Tartus.

Nobody heard the shot, which appears to have been fired from a speedboat by a sniper, possibly equipped with a silencer. The expertise required to execute such a long-distance sniper murder has led suspicion to fall upon the Israelis.

Suleiman had been President Bashar al-Assad’s personal mentor since 1994, after the death of the president’s brother Basel in a car accident. Assad later appointed Suleiman as his operations officer and made him responsible for protecting the regime.

If Syria has passed Russian-made SA-8 mobile launchers to Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militia that came close to defeating the Israeli army two years ago, it is in possession of a potent weapon to defy Israeli air power.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, recently warned that Hezbollah was straining his country’s patience in Lebanon. Hezbollah announced last week its next military step would be “to stop Israeli fighter planes flying over our land”.

Despite the risk of jeopardising peace negotiations between the two countries, the attack appears to have been intended as a warning to the Syrian regime.

According to Israeli sources, during Assad’s visit to Paris last month Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, asked President Nicolas Sarkozy to tell Assad that he was “crossing a red line supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon”.

Last week the Israeli defence cabinet was presented with an intelligence report on Syria’s arms supplies to Hezbollah.

http://yidwithlid.blogspot.com/2008/08/did-israel-kill-key-syrian-aide.html?referer=sphere_related_content

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From The Sunday Times
August 10, 2008

Slain Syrian aide supplied missiles to Hezbollah
Recently assassinated Muhammed Suleiman had been supplying anti-aircraft missiles to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah
Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv

A KEY aide to the Syrian president who was assassinated last weekend in mysterious circumstances had been supplying Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, according to Middle Eastern sources.

Once operative, the mobile missiles will threaten the dominance of the Israeli air force over Lebanon.

The assassinated aide, Brigadier-General Muhammad Suleiman, 49, was “more important than anyone else”, wrote the London-based Saudi paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat last week: “He was senior even to the defence minister. He knew everything.”

He was killed by a single shot to the head as he sat in the garden of his summer house near the northern port city of Tartus.

Nobody heard the shot, which appears to have been fired from a speedboat by a sniper, possibly equipped with a silencer. The expertise required to execute such a long-distance sniper murder has led suspicion to fall upon the Israelis.

Suleiman had been President Bashar al-Assad’s personal mentor since 1994, after the death of the president’s brother Basel in a car accident. Assad later appointed Suleiman as his operations officer and made him responsible for protecting the regime.

If Syria has passed Russian-made SA-8 mobile launchers to Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militia that came close to defeating the Israeli army two years ago, it is in possession of a potent weapon to defy Israeli air power.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, recently warned that Hezbollah was straining his country’s patience in Lebanon. Hezbollah announced last week its next military step would be “to stop Israeli fighter planes flying over our land”.

Despite the risk of jeopardising peace negotiations between the two countries, the attack appears to have been intended as a warning to the Syrian regime.

According to Israeli sources, during Assad’s visit to Paris last month Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, asked President Nicolas Sarkozy to tell Assad that he was “crossing a red line supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon”.

Last week the Israeli defence cabinet was presented with an intelligence report on Syria’s arms supplies to Hezbollah.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article4493334.ece

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The Mystery Behind a Syrian Murder
By Nicholas Blanford / Beirut

Syria on Wednesday broke its silence over the recent mysterious assassination of a senior army general and top aide to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a killing that has provoked a storm of speculation over internal rifts within the Assad regime.

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.

The slain general was buried on Sunday at his home village of Draykish, 15 miles east of Tartous, in a funeral attended by Maher al-Assad, younger brother of the President. Bashar al-Assad, who is said to be deeply upset by Suleiman's murder, stuck to his schedule and flew to Tehran on Saturday for talks with top Iranian officials, followed by a trip to Turkey. And the government initially remained silent on the assassination, while the Syrian media ducked the issue. But on Wednesday for the first time, Buthaina Shaaban, an advisor to President Assad, confirmed Suleiman's death.

"Mohammed Suleiman, an officer in the Syrian Arab Army, has been assassinated," Shaaban told reporters. "An investigation is underway." She offered no further details.

As for the identity and motive of the killer, there is no shortage of speculation in Syria. Nicknamed "the imported general" by his friends because of his fair complexion and foreign looks, Suleiman had been a key aide to Assad since the mid-1990s, when Bashar was being groomed to succeed his father, Hafez al-Assad, as president. Suleiman, who comes from the same Alawite religious sect as the Assad family, supervised several portfolios, and oversaw Syria's weapons research and development program. After Assad became president in 2000, Suleiman handled his intelligence affairs and was reportedly also in charge of arms transfers from Syria to Hizballah in neighboring Lebanon.

Suleiman's murder comes at a critical time for Syria, which is presently engaged in a delicate balancing act of pursuing indirect peace talks with Israel and improved ties to the West, at the same time as maintaining its relations with Hizballah and Iran. In exchange for the return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967, the Israeli government demands that Syria curtails its strategic alliance with Iran and its backing for Hizballah and for Palestinian militant groups. Still, since Syria and Israel revealed in May that they are negotiating via Turkish mediation, Damascus has paradoxically strengthened its military and economic alliance with Tehran.

Some Syria watchers believe that while Assad has a firm grip on power, the pressure of juggling relations with Israel and Iran is causing stresses within the regime.

"There is talk now about moving to direct peace negotiations between the Syrians and Israelis, but it's hard to reconcile those talks when Syria's military and security apparatus is so heavily supported by Iran," said Andrew Tabler, a Damascus-based Syria analyst. "I can't imagine how they are going to square all that."

A well-informed Syrian source told TIME that Suleiman's death could be connected to the fallout surrounding the assassination in Damascus last February of Hizballah's top military commander, Imad Mughniyah, who was killed by a car bomb. Regime insiders indicate that the Mughniyah killing, which caused the Syrian leader serious embarrassment with his Iranian and Hizballah allies, touched off a purge in the senior ranks of Syria's intelligence services. Some speculate that these purges may have created a revenge motive for Suleiman's killing.

"It's a very delicate question. I think that how the regime reacts to the assassination will be more significant than the assassination itself," the source said.

Ultimately, the truth may turn out to be much simpler, or perhaps even more convoluted than the most convoluted conspiracy theory. With Syria, you can never tell.

Click to Print Find this article at:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1830018,00.html



 
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