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Pro-Assad commentator gunned down in Lebanon - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Fatima, the daughter of pro-Assad political analyst, Mohammad Derar Jamo, is comforted by a relative as she mourns in Lebanon's southern village of Sarafand on July 17, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD ZAYYAT

Fatima, the daughter of pro-Assad political analyst, Mohammad Derar Jamo, is comforted by a relative as she mourns in Lebanon’s southern village of Sarafand on July 17, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD ZAYYAT

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Unknown assailants killed Lebanese political analyst Mohamed Derar Jammo yesterday, who was a supporter of the Assad regime, shooting him dead at his home in Sarafand, near the southern Lebanese city of Sidon.

The assailants fired machine guns at Jammo at 2:00 am Wednesday as he arrived home with his daughter and two aides, killing him instantly. This is the first assassination of a pro-Assad figure in Lebanon since the start of the Syrian conflict more than two years ago, and follows recent spate of bomb attacks on areas with a strong Hezbollah presence.

The attack on Jammo represents a major security breach for Hezbollah, because the attack did not involve remotely-detonated bombs, or missiles fired from a distance, but involved the use of gunfire in a residential area by attackers who managed to escape.

Western media reports said the attack indicated that Syrian opposition groups were capable pf hitting targets far from the Sunni areas where they enjoyed support. Eyewitnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat that Jammo, who was the director of the political and international relations department at the Arab Expatriates Organization, was hit by 27 bullets in the head and chest. The shooting took place inside his house and lasted for more than one minute, after which the assailants escaped.

Speculation about the identity of the attackers has focused on members of the Syrian opposition, or their sympathizers in Lebanon. Although Jammo did not hold any official position in the Ba’ath Party or the Syrian state, but he was one of the most prominent media figures who defended Assad’s government on Lebanese and Arab television channels. He compared Assad to Che Guevara and Saladin, and said anyone killed by the Syrian army was a “terrorist.”

Following his death, Jammo’s wife told Hezbollah’s Manar TV station that Syrian Ba’ath Party officials had warned her husband of a terrorists plot to assassinate him.

American McClatchy news website, meanwhile, published a report on Monday which said Lebanese officials had received a warning from the CIA about an imminent Al-Qaeda attack on Hezbollah areas in Lebanon, and the targeting of political figures linked to Hezbollah and the Syrian government.

The warning, according to McClatchy, came through the CIA station chief in Beirut, and was passed to Lebanese officials during a meeting in Beirut last week.

The website said Hezbollah had acknowledged the warning. It quoted a Hezbollah internal security commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, as saying: “Yes, a warning came from the CIA, they passed us this information through the mukhabarat (military intelligence), but we already had our own information about the bombings.”

A Lebanese official who was at the meeting said the CIA warning included evidence that was “convincing and very scary” because it was very specific.

The evidence, according to McClatchy, included intercepted phone conversations and very detailed information on a number of cells operating along Lebanon’s border with Syria, as well as inside Beirut itself.