WikiLeaks said on Thursday it had begun publishing more than 2 million emails from Syrian government officials that would embarrass not only Damascus, which is trying to crush a 16-month rebellion, but also its opponents.

Speaking at a press conference in London, a Wikileaks spokeswoman said the emails were from Syrian political figures, government ministries and companies, dating from August 2006 to March 2012.

A statement quoted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as saying: "The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria's opponents."

The spokeswoman said "The Syria Files" would shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy, but would "also reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another."

The range of information extends from the intimate correspondence of the most senior Baath party figures to records of financial transfers sent from Syrian ministries to other nations, she added said.

In the coming two months, she continued, stories derived from the files will appear on the Wikileaks website, Al Akbar, Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm, the Associated Press, and other news outlets.

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The spokeswoman said the cache contains 2.5 million emails from 650,000 email addresses.

The revolt, which started with peaceful pro-democracy protests in March 2011, has turned into something approaching a civil war as the government's crackdown triggered an armed uprising.

Opposition leaders and Western governments say more than 15,000 people have been killed in the uprising. The government says "terrorist gangs" steered from abroad have killed several thousand troops and police.

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