Leaked papers detail Syrian efforts to stifle revolt

Documents obtained by Al Jazeera call on army to "carry out large-scale cleansing campaign in Idlib, towns near Aleppo."

By REUTERS
March 20, 2012 23:22
2 minute read.
Syrians protest against Assad [file]

Syria anti-Assad protest 370 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout)

BEIRUT - Documents described as leaked from inside Syria's embattled government show it trying to dissuade the president's allies from defecting, as security forces struggle to suppress an increasingly bloody revolt.

It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the documents, which Al Jazeera news channel said it posted on its website after obtaining them from a former member of President Bashar Assad's government.

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A document apparently from Prime Minister Adel Safar to the foreign ministry said other Arab countries were trying to convince members of Syria's ruling Baath party to abandon Assad, particularly Gulf Arab states.

Syrian officials had been encouraged to move to Gulf capitals and promised privileges, it said.

"Certain Arab and European capitals are also attempting to influence Syrian ambassadors, consuls and diplomatic attaches to defect and seek asylum there as they attempt to delude them that the regime in Syria is falling," it added.

"Kindly peruse and take necessary action towards these suspicious moves."

Al Jazeera said it had received hundreds of pages of documents that reveal the creation of a "Crisis Management Cell" to deal with Syria's unraveling security conditions.

Two of the five documents released by Al Jazeera show detailed plans for how to stifle protests and unrest in the capital Damascus and main business hub Aleppo.

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Damascus orders "large-scale cleansing" operations

The documents calls on police to "deal with peaceful demonstrations in a legal fashion" but says security forces should "hunt down emerging secret terrorist organizations".

The opposition says Assad's forces have detained and tortured thousands of people, many on charges of terrorism.

The document also says security forces should "carry out a large-scale cleansing campaign in Idlib's cities and towns and villages parallel to Aleppo".

A paper detailing security plans for Damascus calls for the organizing of "Baathist comrades" to help security forces stifle protests.

It says security forces must use police batons rather than firearms - an instruction inconsistent with videos posted by activists of tank-backed troops bombarding rebellious neighborhoods and snipers firing on protests.

On Thursdays and Fridays, when after-prayer protests often draw the largest crowds, the document calls for Damascus security forces to ban entrance to residents from Deraa, birthplace of the year-long uprising, or the capital's suburbs.

More than 8,000 people have been killed in the crackdown, according to the United Nations.


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