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Tuesday, March 29, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Assad media representative blames terrorists
for Syrian uprising

NICOSIA — The regime of President Bashar Assad, known for its active collaboration with terrorist organizations, said the Muslim Brotherhood is joining the revolt in Syria.


The government's claim could not be independently confirmed due to the crackdown on media coverage of the Syrian uprising.

Officials said Brotherhood members were attacking regime facilities in northeastern and other areas of Syria. In some cases, they said, Brotherhood and Al Qaida-aligned elements were also attacking homes of the Alawite minority, of which Assad is a member.

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"Extremists have sought to generate a sectarian war," a presidential adviser said.

The adviser, Buthaina Shaaban, said Islamists were attacking Alawites and Christians in the port city of Latakia. Ms. Shaaban said alleged Brotherhood supporters were joining Palestinians from a nearby refugee camp in assaulting civilians in Latakia.

Shaaban has been regularly issuing statements. President Assad has not yet addressed the nation.

Opposition sources said the regime's strategy is to frame the demonstrations as sectarian conflict.

The Brotherhood was said to have taken a low profile amid the growing unrest, which has included the increasing use of live fire by security forces.

Islamic sources said the Brotherhood did not want to give Assad a pretext to massacre its members. So far, 61 people have been reported killed over the last 10 days.

"The minute Assad can show that the Brotherhood is playing a significant role then he could justify any atrocity under the pretext of counter-terrorism," an exiled Brotherhood source said.

Latakia, 350 kilometers northwest of Damascus, has become the latest battleground between Assad's security forces and regime opponents. Officials said gangs of gunmen have been firing toward civilians and officers in the resort city, which contains a major naval port.

Assad has ordered the Syrian Army to regain control over Latakia, with a population of 450,000. Officials said they have captured Sunni foreigners, including an American, believed to have helped foment the revolt.

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