Lebanon News

Sayyed, Assad discuss regional situation

This file picture shows Jamil Sayyed in the court room at the special international tribunal for Lebanon in Leidschendam January 14, 2011. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad held a two-hour meeting with former Lebanese General Security chief Jamil Sayyed Tuesday.

The National News Agency said that the Syrian president discussed with Sayyed the overall situation in the region.

Meanwhile, Sayyed gave State Prosecutor Hatem Madi audio recordings allegedly implicating Future Movement MP Oqab Saqr in providing funds and military equipment to Syrian rebels. The recordings are also alleged to include promises made by Saqr to provide Syrian opposition members with advanced telecommunications equipment, according to the statement.

“Maj. Gen. Sayyed has placed at the disposal of State Prosecutor Hatem Madi a copy of a CD containing four phone conversations that took place recently between MP Oqab Saqr and armed groups in Syria,” said a statement by Sayyed’s media office.

“The conversations expose MP Saqr’s commitment to providing armed rebels fighting in Syria with modern equipment that ‘makes miracles happen,’ to confront the Syrian regime forces,” the statement said.

The statement added that in the recordings, Saqr urges Free Syrian Army fighters to task a spokesperson with denying to foreign media responsibility for explosions which hit Aleppo last year and for which an FSA official had claimed responsibility earlier.

It added that the recordings would assist the prosecutor’s office with the investigation it is carrying out after former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Saqr filed lawsuits against Al-Akhbar newspaper and OTV, accusing the media outlets of manipulating audio recordings to implicate them in weapons transfers to Syrian rebels.

According to the statement, Sayyed said he received the recordings from Syrian researcher and journalist Rafik Lotf, adding that these recordings have been aired recently by Syrian state television.

The statement added that the recordings include clear conversations between Saqr and Syrian rebels in which he discusses providing funds and urges the rebels to unify their ranks.

OTV broadcasted audio recordings of Saqr allegedly discussing arms sales with Syrian rebels late last year. In one of the recordings, Saqr says Hariri wants rebel groups to defeat regime forces.

Saqr later denied his remarks in a heavily publicized news conference from Turkey and claimed his remarks were taken out of context, maintaining that he was tasked by Hariri to only provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. He aired what he said were the complete recordings, which include a conversion where the MP turns down a request by Syrian rebels to provide them with arms.

Syria has issued arrest warrants for Hariri, Saqr and FSA official Louay Meqdad over the claims of providing weapons and funds to “terrorist groups” in Syria based on the controversial recordings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 09, 2013, on page 3.




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