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QASSIOUN SHOOTOUT

QASSIOUN SHOOTOUT
 

 

 

On Sunday 07/03/2005, two Syrian security personnel and a militant, identified only as M.Z, were killed in a gunfight along the Syrian-Lebanese border North West of the Capital Damascus, on the Northern slops of Jabel al-Sheikh (Mount Hermon in Hebrew). Other 34 members of the group were surrounded and arrested by the Syrian forces that were, most likely, tipped off.

 

The group of non-Syrians was heading to Lebanon after they returned, through Syria, from Iraq.    

 

The next day, on Monday 07/04/2005 early in the morning, Syrian security agents raided a militant hideout connected to the anti-American insurgency in Iraq, on Mount Qassioun, in the North-West outskirt of Damascus which offers scenic views over the town and is favored as a picnic spot by city dwellers. The hideout served as the coordination and operational center for the group arrested the previous evening in Jabel al-Sheikh (Mount Hermon in Hebrew).

 

Two members of the group were arrested in the fighting, in which four policemen were also hurt. A Syrian official, quoted by the Syrian news agency – SANA, identified one captured militant as a Jordanian citizen, Sharif Ayed Saed al-Semadi. Police also reportedly arrested his brother’s wife Manal al-Semadi. The brother himself, Mohammad Ayed Saed al-Semadi surnamed Mohammad Islam, 30, was arrested two days later on 07/06/2005 with two other Jordanian brothers Raafat Shihab and Rihab Shihab.

 

All five suspects were wanted by Jordan for armed robbery – The Shihab brothers were already in custody in Jordan but managed to escape about a year before when they were brought to Jordanian court. The group was under surveillance for some time.

 

The al-Semadi brothers were close to the Jund al-Sham militant group and were part of a network set up in Syria by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda's branch in Iraq. Al-Arabiya satellite television channel, apparently with permission from Syrian intelligence, reported the al-Semadi brothers had been in Iraq before the US-led invasion to Iraq in 03/2003. They joined the Fedayeen Saddam paramilitary militia which the Iraqi leader formed to fight the invading USA troops and, eventually, joined Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s group in Iraq.
 

USA officially claimed, through the Pentagon’s spokesmen, on 07/07/2005, that the Qassioun incident was not a terror act but an attempt to arrest armed outlaws who fled the police.

 

** Just a month earlier, on 06/08/2005 midnight, the Syrian police clashed with a squad of Jund al-Sham in a Damascus Southern suburb. The squad leader Abu Omar and another activist, Abu Ahmed, were killed and a third one was arrested. The interrogation of the detainee led the police to an apartment where they found a stash of weapons and ammunition, documents which proved the group had planned various attacks in Damascus and surrounding areas, and a car bomb in its assemblage.   

 

It was probably the car bomb that made the Syrians change their policy and to crack down on Jund al-Sham, which was operating in Syria almost freely and with Syrian security overlooking its activity until then.
 

** Since the assassination of the former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in Beirut, on 02/14/2005, there is a Syrian internal rivalry between different security and intelligence organizations, some of the under the supervision of the younger brother of the Syrian President Bashar AssadMaher Assad, who was implicated in an international investigation as being behind the assassination, and other organizations under the supervision of Bashar Assad’s brother in law - Assaf Shaukat.  Jund al-Sham was, most likely, affiliated to on side in the rivalry and was used as a tool against the other faction.  

 
 
* Related ropics -

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13/12/2008 05:29:17

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