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Syria believed Israel was behind sniper killing of President's security aide: WikiLeaks

December 21, 2010 - London

Syria believed that Israelis were "the most obvious suspects" in the assassination of President Bashar al-Assad's top security aide in August 2008, according to a classified US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks.

Brigadier General Muhammad Sulayman was assassinated by a sniper late on the evening of August 1 in the coastal city of Tartous.

A cable sent by the US embassy in Damascus to the State Department on August 3, 2008, highlights Syria's initial view about the murder.

"As in other recent assassinations in Syria, speculation about who could have done it will likely be rampant. The most obvious suspects are the Israelis. SARG (Syrian Arab Republic Government) security services are well aware that the coastal city of Tartous would offer easier access to Israeli operatives than would more inland locations such as Damascus," the Guardian quoted the cable, as saying

"Sulayman was not a highly visible government official, and the use of a sniper suggests the assassin could visually identify Sulayman from a distance. As Tartous is also close to the northern-most part of the Syrian-Lebanese border, the SARG might blame pro-Saudi Islamist militants from Tripoli or the Nahr al-Barid camp."

"Some may even go so far as to suggest the (comment: unlikely) possibility that this was an inside job to prevent Sulayman from damaging the Syrian regime," it added.


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