Syrian troops ordered to kill 5% of participants at all protests, ‘ex-commander’ tells The Times of Israel (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By MICHA ODENHEIMER and NATAN ODENHEIMER 07/13/12)
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Man who says he was a senior officer in Assad’s military intelligence
directorate, now hiding out in Jordan, says dozens of his own
soldiers were slaughtered when they refused to fire on demonstrators
AR RAMTHA, Jordan – A man who said he is a former commander in
Syria’s “Mukhabarat al-Askariya” military intelligence directorate,
which operates under the direct authority of President Bashar Assad,
claimed this week that the Assad regime has ordered its commanders
to “shoot to kill five percent of the participants in any given
When the soldiers under his command, mostly Sunnis, refused to kill
unarmed civilians at a demonstration outside Damascus, they
themselves were slaughtered by the army and intelligence services,
and dozens of them were killed, he said.
The “former commander,” who was interviewed by The Times of Israel on
Tuesday in his hiding place across the Syrian border in northern
Jordan, also said that Assad has been using Shiite fighters from
Iran, Lebanon and Iraq in his attempt to quell demonstrations and
fight back against opposition forces since the early days of the
uprising against him.
Faisal — he asked not to use his real name because family members are
imprisoned in Syria — told his story from a room in a rickety,
seemingly abandoned building on the outskirts of Ar Ramtha, an
ancient Jordanian city of 120,000 that lies directly across the
We had come across the building looking for Syrian refugees who might
be living outside the camps set up by the Jordanian government; the
police had blocked us from entering those. The entire building, which
at one time had been a hotel — there was even a pool, half filled
with brackish water — was now occupied by refugees, mostly from the
town of Dura, which lies 15 kilometers or so inside Syria, north of
the Jordanian border.
Faisal, thin and handsome, with taut muscles and a tattoo on his left
forearm, squatted with us on the straw mats that covered his floor.
He showed us his Mukhabarat photo ID, issued by military intelligence.
Soon afterwards, two other Syrian refugees, burly farmers from Dura,
entered the room and for several tense minutes one of them
interrupted Faisal’s narrative angrily.
“Why should we speak to you?” one of the farmers asked us, his voice
rising. “What good will it do? If you want to see Assad slaughtering
children, all you have to do is turn on the television. I spoke to my
family in Dura on the phone today. They said that just today soldiers
grabbed a nine-year-old boy in our neighborhood — a boy we all know —
and slit his throat with a knife. Just to scare his family and the
rest of us. Enough interviews! ”
Finally, the farmer calmed down, and Faisal continued to speak.
When the uprising began in March 2011, Faisal was in Lebanon, where
he said he had been sent to tail a visitor to Lebanon from Los
Angeles in whom Syrian intelligence had a special interest. He was
called back home in mid-assignment in order to fight
the “terrorists” — the government’s term — who were challenging the
One of his missions, he said, was to manage security arrangements for
a group of 300 Shiite fighters who had been organized by the Iranian
regime and sent to Syria before the uprising had erupted in full
force. The fighters, Faisal said, had been sent from Iran, from
Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, and from Muktada Al Sadr, the radical
Shiite cleric based in Baghdad’s Mahdi Army. Now, as opposition
forces began to organize after the brutal attempts to suppress a
Syrian spring, the Shiite fighters had become a target.
In a letter Faisal showed us, and allowed us to photograph, addressed
to “All the heads of security committees in Syria,” security agents
are warned that opposition forces are targeting the “fighters and
intelligence officers from Lebanon, Iran and Iraq” and that their
locations have been leaked. The committees are charged with
protecting the foreigners by moving them around frequently, and by
the “targeted killing of anyone who tries to get near them.” The
authenticity of the document could not be independently confirmed.
As the uprising progressed, Faisal said, he was reassigned from army
intelligence to duty in the field and was given command of a group of
250 soldiers. According to Faisal, that is when he received the
direct order to have his men shoot 5% of participants in any given
demonstration. If there were 1,000 demonstrators, the order was to
kill 50, in order to strike fear and create deterrence.
But, assigned to suppress a demonstration in Douma, on the outskirts
of Damascus, his men, mostly Sunni themselves like the demonstrators,
refused to fire. Soon, his soldiers themselves were being fired upon
by army and Mukhabarat forces, and dozens of them — as many as 100,
in his estimation — were killed. Faisal himself fled in a jeep, and
hid inside Syria for several months before escaping, through Jordan,
to Egypt and then Libya.
Now back in Jordan living among fellow refugees near the Syrian
border, Faisal is reluctant to leave his room. “There are Syrian
Mukhabarat here in Jordan,” he told us. “That is for sure.” (© 2012
THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 07/13/12)
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