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Free Syrian Army detail attack on intelligence complex | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat – The nature of the struggle between the “Free Syrian Army” [FSA], and forces loyal to the Al-Assad regime has entered a new phase. An “FSA” group attacked at dawn yesterday a large air intelligence compound in the city of Harasta, which is close to the capital Damascus, and engaged with Pro-Al-Assad elements that were guarding the compound killing and wounding several of them.

Major Mahir Rahum, the official spokesman of the “Military Council” established by the “FSA”, asserted to Asharq Al-Awsat that an “FSA” unit attacked the administrative building of the air intelligence’s branch for the southern sector from several sides. He said the attackers fired rockets at the building from a distance of 300 meters and then withdrew without suffering any losses. He pointed out that many ambulances rushed to the attack site which indicated there were casualties among the intelligence elements. Rahmun stressed that “the operation was carried out in coordination with agents inside and after a close monitoring lasting 15 days to avoid hurting civilian prisoners.”

The General Committee of the Syrian Revolution confirmed the report of the attack while Syrian activists’ sources explained to the media details of what happened and said “the defectors attacked an intelligence compound at the outskirts of Damascus at an early hour on Wednesday morning in the first attack on a major security installation since the outbreak of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.” The sources added that the “FSA” members fired “RPGs” and machinegun fire at the air force intelligence’s large compound on the northern part of the capital at the Damascus-Aleppo highway at around 0230 hours. A battle with machineguns ensued and helicopters flew over the area. They added that there were no immediate reports of casualties and that it was still difficult to reach the area where the attack took place.

The Air Intelligence Directorate is headed by Brigadier General Jamil Hasan and is one of the fiercest security organs against the large anti-Al-Assad protest movement. Opposition activists point out that most of the bodies of those who die under torture are handed to their relatives by one of this directorate’s teams. According to them, this is what happened with activist Ghiyath Matar whose larynx was pulled out by the intelligence directorate and his corpse then handed to his family.

A Syrian oppositionist points out that the “FSA” operation against the intelligence compound yesterday morning followed a series of warnings from this army’s command to the Syrian regime’s key officials demanding the release of detainees from Al-Assad’s jails and cessation of the repression of the protesters demanding the downfall of Al-Assad’s regime as otherwise the security organs mainly involved in the repressions and killing would be targeted.

The Syrian oppositionist, who lives in Beirut, says “these operations will escalate against all the security organs, particularly those that are hunting down and liquidating the defectors. These are the air intelligence and military intelligence directorates.” He adds: “The Syrian regime will weaken further the more security and intelligence establishments are targeted because the security services are this regime’s backbone after the army where the defections from its ranks are increasing.”

The air intelligence has bases in all Syrian cities. Elements from this organ interfere in most of the citizens’ matters and people are quite often summoned for purely civilian reasons, according to the activists. The antiterrorism companies were created to hunt down and arrest the terrorists and were later merged with this directorate thus making the air intelligence the fiercest security service in dealing with Syrian citizens. The air intelligence directorate was established in the early 1970’s by President Hafiz al-Assad and was under the air force command and had small units in airports before it was given independence to exercise control on all aspects of life in Syrian society, like all the other security services.