Wednesday 18 October 2017

Assad betrayed Gaddafi to save his Syrian regime

A man carries his son, killed during the shelling of Al Qasseer city, near Homs, in Syria.
A man carries his son, killed during the shelling of Al Qasseer city, near Homs, in Syria.

Adrian Blomfield Damascus

The Assad regime in Syria brought about Muammar Gaddafi's death by providing France with the key intelligence which led to the operation that killed him, sources in Libya claimed yesterday.

French spies operating in Sirte, Gaddafi's last refuge, were able to set a trap for the Libyan dictator after obtaining his satellite telephone number from the Syrian government, they said.

In what would amount to an extraordinary betrayal of one Middle East strongman by another, President Bashar al-Assad sold out his fellow tyrant in an act of self-preservation, a former senior intelligence official in Tripoli said.

With international attention switching from Libya to the mounting horrors in Syria, Mr Assad offered Paris the telephone number in exchange for an easing of French pressure on Damascus, according to Rami El Obeidi.

"In exchange for this information, Assad had obtained a promise of a grace period from the French and less political pressure on the regime -- which is what happened," Mr Obeidi said.

While it was not possible independently to verify Mr Obeidi's allegation, Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, played a leading role in both the NATO mission to bomb Libya and in bringing international pressure to bear on the Assad regime.

The claims by Mr Obeidi, the former head of foreign intelligence for the movement that overthrew Gaddafi, followed comments by Mahmoud Jibril, who served as prime minister in the transitional government and now leads one of Libya's largest political parties.

He confirmed that a foreign "agent" was involved in the operation that killed Gaddafi.

The news of the Syria deal could potentially embarrass NATO, which initially claimed it did "not target individuals".

According to the alliance's official version, an RAF reconnaissance plane spotted a large convoy of vehicles trying to flee Sirte on October 20 last year.

NATO warplanes then bombed the convoy, apparently unaware of who was travelling in it, before militia fighters later found Gaddafi hiding in a drainpipe. He is believed to have been killed by his captors en route to the city of Misurata, west of Sirte.

But Mr Obeidi said that France had essentially masterminded the operation by directing Libyan militiamen to an ambush spot where they could intercept Gaddafi's convoy.

A spokesman at the French foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny the claims. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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