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(photo credit: AP)
According to the German magazine Stern, the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Aasaf Showkat, is one of the prime suspects in the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
According to Army Radio, Stern reported that five additional senior members of Assad's regime appeared before the UN investigation team, "not as witnesses but as suspects."
In the coming days the international investigation team is to hand in an interim report as to their findings, while UN envoy Terje Roed-Larson is expected to submit a report to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Wednesday regarding Syria's involvement in the assassination of Hariri.
Amidst speculation that the US was interested in ousting Assad either by military force or by coaxing his overthrow, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Annan yesterday to discuss the possible international consequences of the report's findings.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's political and security division reiterated Wednesday morning Israel's stance that it has no interest in seeing the downfall of the Assad regime in Syria, saying, "The Israeli interest is to see Syria turn from a state which supports terror to a state that seeks peace."
Gilad added that a change in Syrian policy would have a stabilizing effect on the Middle East.
Arab news sources reported that the United States and France would submit a joint request to the UN Security Council that Syria be condemned for continuing to interfere in the investigation.