Syria denies Air Force intelligence chief assassinated
August 27, 2012 Leave a comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Syrian state-owned television channel has denied reports that the head of Syria’s Air Force Intelligence has been assassinated by one of his aides. The government-controlled al-Dynya TV called reports about the assassination of Lieutenant Jamil Hassan “absolutely false”. However, unlike Syria’s Vice-President, Farouq al-Sharaa, who appeared on television yesterday to dispel rumors he had defected to Jordan, Hassan made no such appearance. Earlier on Sunday, sources affiliated with the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television network that Lieutenant Hassan had been killed in his office in Syrian capital Damascus. Born into a prominent military family in the western city of Homs, Syria’s third-largest city and site of some of the worst violence in the ongoing Syrian uprising, Hassan belongs to the country’s Alawite community. It is the same Syrian-based branch of Shiite Islam that counts the country’s President, Bashar al-Assad, as its member. Hassan is believed to be a key member of the Syrian military and a close advisor of the President. Opposition forces consider Hassan a hardline supporter of the Assad regime and charge him with leading the ‘iron fist’ caucus inside the Syrian government. A Syrian opposition source once quoted Hassan as telling Assad: “let me kill a million protesters to end the revolution and I will go to [the International Criminal Court in] The Hague in your place”. Although this quote remains anecdotal, there is little doubt that Hassan’s vocal support for the Assad regime has repeatedly attracted the attention of the opposition FSA, which sees him as one of the most vicious and criminal elements inside the Syrian state. Hassan’s role in the government’s intelligence apparatus, and his commanding position inside the Syrian Air Force, which is credited with ensuring the government’s military superiority over the FSA, make him doubly hated by the rebels. For several months now, the FSA has been issuing public calls for Hassan’s capture or assassination on an almost weekly basis. It is worth noting, however, that, according to the Al-Arabiya report, Hassan was killed by a member of the Ahfad al-Rasul Brigade of the FSA. The group, whose title translates in English as “Descendants of the Prophet”, is known as one of the opposition’s best-organized autonomous Islamist factions. Earlier this month, the group claimed responsibility for a massive bombing in downtown Damascus, which it said was aimed at a military base nearby.