Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Attack on Syrian intelligence base is most audacious yet

Symbolic significance of assault on Syria's feared Air Force Intelligence directorate will not be lost on civilians

Ian Black
, Middle East editor, Wednesday 16 November 2011

"Syria's Air Force Intelligence directorate is a central part of the Assad regime's repressive apparatus – less concerned with aviation matters than keeping tabs on the opposition. Wednesday's rocket and machine gun attack on one of its facilities on the Damascus-Aleppo highway, Hasrata, looks like the most audacious and precisely targeted attack yet by President Bashar al-Assad's enemies. Its symbolic significance will not be lost on Syrian citizens.

This feared organ of state security owes its ostensibly anomalous role to the fact that the president's father and predecessor, Hafez, was commander of the air force before coming to power in 1968. It played a key internal role in crushing the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s and its officers have often been stationed at Syrian embassies abroad....

Its current head, Jamil Hassan, is a member of the Alawite sect and part of the Assad family's inner circle. AFI personnel have often been seen in action against protesters and are reported to have fired live ammunition to disperse demonstrators in Damascus in April, killing 43......"

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