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Syrian official denies reports of high-level assassinations

May 20, 2012 |  9:36 am

Syrian Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Shaar
AMMAN, Jordan -- Syrian Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Shaar on Sunday denied reports that a rebel operation had killed him and five other high-ranked security and political officials.

“I’m speaking from my office at the Ministry of the Interior. All my colleagues are on duty,” he said via telephone on a state-run TV channel.

He accused Al Jazeera and other satellite news channels of running “campaigns of lies since the beginning of the crisis.”

Later, Shaar appeared on Addounia TV advising the “Syrian people to put these media behind because their only goal is evilness, killings, seeing bloodshed, and enjoying drinking Syrian blood.” He also accused “Al Jazeera and other channels” of “transforming into operation rooms that gives orders to terrorists to conduct terrorist attacks.”

Noted a Syrian journalist who requested not to be identified for the sake of security: “The war of rumors and unconfirmed reports have started. It is a powerful tool. Even if it is not true, the morale of the people today hearing the news of the assassination really went up.”

Al-Sahaba Brigade, which is linked to the opposition Free Syrian Army, claimed in a YouTube video that it killed six Syrian officials, including Shaar and Defense Minister Dawud Rajih. According to the video, all six were part of the so-called crisis management group that oversees operations to contain the 14-month-old uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Al-Sahab Brigade operates in Damascus and its suburbs and has about 1,500 fighters, said Abu Obeida of the Free Syrian Army in the Syrian capital.

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-- Rima Marrouch

Photo: A handout photo made available by Syrian Arab News Agency shows Syrian Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Shaar speaking during a news conference in Damascus on Sunday. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency / Syrian Arab News Agency.

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