Int’l community has failed the Syrian people- former Syrian MB chief
Tuesday 22 May 2012
By Mohammed Al-Shafey
London/Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Uncertainty continues to surround the claims that a number of senior Syrian officials, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law and intelligence Chief Assef Shawkat, were assassinated on Sunday, despite official denials of this.
A number of Syrian activists have confirmed that an assassination attempt against the so-called “crisis cell” of the Syrian regime went ahead on Sunday, targeting senior Syrian officials including Syria’s Defense Minister, Interior Minister and Intelligence Chief, revealing that they were poisoned. However former Syrian Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni did not rule out that the al-Assad regime itself could be behind the al-Sahaba battalion video, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that “previously, the regime has carried out similar media leaks to discredit the Syrian revolution.”
He stressed that this incident “reminds us of the media fabrications and unbelievable stories that the regime continues to depend on in its dealings with the popular revolution, as well as the [false] news and information regarding what is happening on the ground that is conveyed by the activists.”
Bayanouni added “the revolutionaries in Syria have imposed a new reality on the ground, and there is talk about the future of Syria and about who will rule the country in the forthcoming period following the collapse of the regime…after it carried out crimes against the Syrian people”
FSA activists claimed the al-Sahaba battalion had killed six high-ranking officials within the al-Assad regime in Damascus on Sunday night, including Intelligence Chief Assef Shawkat, Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar, Defense Minister Daoud Rajiha, Vice President’s Deputy Hassan Turkmani, head of the National Security Branch of the Baathist Party Major-General Hisham Bekhtiyar and Deputy Secretary-General of the Baathist Party Muhammad Said Bekeytan, amongst others.
For its part, Syrian state media described the allegations as “categorically baseless”, whilst three of those reportedly killed were quoted in a Syrian Arab News Agency [SANA] report attempting to refuse the claims. Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar denied the FSA’s claims at a press conference, whilst Vice President’s Deputy Hassan Turkmani was interviewed by state-run Syrian TV in his office, stressing that the al-Sahaba battalion claims were “blatant lies.” However nothing has been heard from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law and Intelligence Chief Assef Shawkat since the FSA’s claims.
A spokesman for the al-Sahaba battalion, First Lieutenant Ahmed Mohamed Taqtaq, claiming to be “one of the field commanders of the al-Sahaba battalions in Damascus”, issued a statement which read “I announce the following operation has been executed by the special operations company of the al-Sahaba battalions. This company carried out a covert military operation. They spent two months keeping the members of Syria’s so-called ‘crisis cell’ under surveillance. One of the company’s heroes then carried out a covert military operation within the area. He then killed them in a certain manner – for now we will refrain from disclosing details.”
For his part, General Guide of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Riyad Shaqfah, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “we do not have any specific information regarding the al-Sahaba battalion statement, particularly as Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar and Turkmani have both appeared on Syrian television denying the operation and confirming that they are still alive, however Assef Shawkat, who is responsible for Syria’s security and intelligence apparatus, has not appeared…perhaps there were casualties or injuries in the operation, although there are no specific details until now.”
Answering a question regarding whether the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was coordinating with Syrian businessman abroad to arm the Syrian opposition, Shaqfah said “self-defense is a legitimate right confirmed by divine law” adding “the regime cannot continue killing the Syrian people without the latter defending themselves”
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood General Guide also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the international community has failed the Syrian people, and following the failure of Annan’s mission we have no other choice but to call for the arming of the FSA, and this demand is not confined to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, but is something that practically all members of the Syrian National Council [SNC] is calling for.”
Commenting on the al-Sahaba battalion statement, a senior member of the Syrian opposition in Britain, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said “this type of statement is akin to a trap to discredit the media coverage of the Syrian revolution” adding “the al-Sahaba battalion spokesman claimed they had recruited a cook from the Golan Heights to position the Syrian officials as if they are guests at a party, but it is well known that food passes by more than one person before it reaches the senior officials.”