US considering most-wanted Syria playing cards report

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The United States is considering issuing a set of playing cards to help identify 100 most wanted figures of the Syrian regime, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported Monday, quoting sources from the U.S. Department of State.

According to the report, measures were being taken to produce the cards, which will contain pictures and brief biographical information about each regime figure.

A similar deck of cards was issued in 2003 against high-ranking officials of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime in Iraq.

The latest U.S. strategy, which will be unveiled in the near future according to the report, will provide targeted figures an opportunity for partial reprieve if they cooperate with investigators. The strategy seeks to encourage members of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle to defect.

The report likened the plan to South Africa's “Truth and Reconciliation” plan and to similar plans in Northern Ireland, Rwanda and other countries.

“Because of the bloody character of Assad's regime, those involved will be tried while doors of amnesty and reconciliation will be open for others,” the paper quoted the unnamed U.S. source saying.

Members of Assad's Allawite clan who are not implicated in the bloodshed will be granted “a survival opportunity.” The report noted according to intelligence data many Allawites are supporting Assad only because they are afraid of reprisal if the regime falls. Many Allawites, the report said, are afraid they will be executed if the opposition wins, and the anticipated U.S. plan is meant to dispel those fears.

President Assad holds number one in the deck of cards. His brother Maher al-Assad, the commander of the Republican Guard and the army's elite Fourth Armoured Division, holds number two.

Rami Makhlouf holds card number three. Makhlouf is a wealthy Syrian businessman believed to be in charge of financing the Shabbiha thugs.

Number four is Ali Mamlouk, special security adviser to President Assad, following by Abdul Fatah Qudsiya, deputy director of the National Security Bureau.

Number six is interior minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar.