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Monday, April 11, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Syria opposition IDs officer said to order live fire on protesters

WASHINGTON — The Syrian opposition has identified a senior officer who they say is leading the Assad regime's crackdown on opposition protests.


The opposition has identified Gen. Atef Najib as a leading commander in the Assad crackdown who they say is responsible for ordering live fire against protesters in which scores of people have been killed.

"This man is a savage barbarian and will continue killing for Assad if not stopped," the Reform Party of Syria said.

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RPS, regarded as authoritative, said Najib was commanding Assad's security forces in Dera. The Washington-based group said Najib was directing sniper squads to kill unarmed protesters, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The head of the military operations in Dera for the Assad regime is Gen. Atef Najib," RPS said on April 8. "We urge the international community to highlight his hand in massacring the innocent people of Dera using snipers against peaceful marchers and tear gas that Syrian human rights organizations have asked the world community to investigate."

So far, the bloodiest clashes between protesters and security forces have taken place in Dera. On April 8, at least 40 people were killed in the southern city, where the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party was torched.

The Assad regime was said to have been bolstered by Iranian security forces, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Opposition sources said IRGC has deployed 10,000 troops in Syria.

The opposition has urged Western countries to help stop the Assad crackdown. U.S. President Barack Obama was called upon to warn Najib that he could be charged with crimes against humanity.

At least one regime official has expressed opposition to the Assad crackdown. Samira Al Mussalameh, a senior Baath official in Dera, was forced to resign after she blamed security forces for the killing of civilians.

Over the weekend, the opposition organized protests in Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria, as well as the port of Tartous. Clashes were also reported in the northern city of Homs.

The Interior Ministry said 19 police and security officers were killed in clashes in Dera on April 8. The ministry said another 75 officers were injured by gunfire by so-called armed groups after mosque prayers.

"They began to open fire randomly in order to cause a schism between citizens and security personnel," the ministry said. "They burned official and services establishments, prompted some to assault military and security personnel who are still committed to not opening fire, which led to the martyring and injuring of high numbers of these personnel."

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