High-ranking Syrian officials deny reports of their own assassinations


Two high-ranking Syrian officials denied in interviews with state television on Sunday reports by pan-Arab channels that they, along with four other regime stalwarts, had been assassinated.

The interviews came after satellite channels Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera broadcast an amateur video showing an unidentified man claiming a rebel group’s responsibility for killing the six officials.

Those named are part of President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle and members of the regime’s “crisis management” team.

The unidentified man in the video claimed to be speaking on behalf of the Brigades of the Sahaba, or friends of the Prophet Mohammed.

He claimed the assassination was carried out by one person, after two months of surveillance.

The officials named included Assef Shawkat, Assad’s brother-in-law and military intelligence chief; ministers of interior and defense Mohammad al-Shaar and Daoud Rajha respectively; and national security chief Hisham Bakhtiar.

Also named were Hassan Turkmani, assistant to the vice-president, and Mohammad Said Bakhtian, assistant to the Baath Party chief.

Shaar slammed the satellite channels on Syrian state TV by telephone. “We are used to this kind of news, and to these campaigns of lies and slander.”