Monday, March 19, 2012

Syria: leaked documents reveal Bashar al-Assad's role in crushing protests

Documents leaked by defector from Syrian regime show that Assad personally signs off security crackdown plans

Ian Black
, Middle East editor, Monday 19 March 2012

"Leaks of what appear to be official Syrian documents reveal how the country's president, Bashar al-Assad, personally signs off plans drawn up by his government's crisis management centre, prioritising a security crackdown to prevent demonstrations against his regime spreading to Damascus.

Hundreds of pages of confidential papers shown to al-Jazeera TV by a defector describe daily meetings of the heads of all Syria's security and intelligence agencies, who review events and issue orders that are then approved by the president.

Amid reports of fighting in the Mezzeh area of Damascus – the heaviest in the capital since the uprising began a year ago – al-Jazeera said on Monday that the documents were smuggled out of Syria by Abdel-Majid Barakat, head of information for the crisis management unit, who is now hiding in Turkey with opposition activists.

Emails published by the Guardian last week, which were also obtained from Syrian opposition sources, showed the gilded lifestyle of Assad and his wife, Asma, apparently insulated from the bloodshed and violence raging across the country.

The emails included details of iTunes purchases, flirtatious exchanges with a female aide and advice on PR and media policy.

The latest documents appear to shed more direct light on the regime's strategy against the uprising, including the deployment of thousands of militia known as "shabiha" and members of the Ba'ath party in operations designed to cut off Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib and other large cities from their surrounding regions......"

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