Syrian Intelligence Returns to Lebanon

The new UN investigator Serge Brammertz, in his first report to the UN Security Council Tuesday, March 14, commended Syria for fully cooperating with the inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri a year ago.

Brammertz noted “progress has been made in the critical area of cooperation with Syria.”

Syrian rulers have not heard words of praise from international quarters for many long months. But DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s New York sources disclose that the reason for the kind tone was less the Assad regime turning over a new leaf than a hint from the Bush administration to the UN investigator to go easy on Damascus, so as not to steal Washington’s thunder in the Security Council discussion of Iran’s nuclear program.

Bashar Assad has once again got out from under.

But DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources report that, far from basking in the reprieve from 13 months of unrelenting American and French pressure, ever since the Hariri murder, the Syrian president returned to his old tricks. He is again reaching a greedy hand into Lebanon.

A new Syrian military intelligence section called Unit 333 was set up on his orders and planted in Beirut for the twin missions of destabilizing the anti-Syrian government and undercuting American and French influence.

General Abu Hadid, commander of the al Jazeera province of northern Syria, was moved over to head the new unit. Notorious for his tough methods and loyalty to Bashar Assad, Abu Hadid was responsible for the brutal suppression of Syrian Kurdish riots in late 2004 and during 2005. The al Jazeera province is home to several small Iraqi Sunni and al Qaeda bases, springboards to northwestern Iraqi targets in Tal Afar and Mosul.

Assad’s restoration of a Syrian military intelligence unit to Lebanon is a blatant violation of the Security Council resolutions ordering Syrian forces to quit Lebanon and the Assad regime to remove its hands from Lebanon’s internal affairs. It is also a mark of his contempt for the Brammertz commission and the United Nations.

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