Evidence has emerged from leaked US signals intelligence intercepts that Israeli special forces were responsible for assassinating a senior Syrian military official who was a close adviser to President Bashar al-Assad.
Brig Gen Mahmoud Suleiman was shot dead on a beach near the northern Syrian port of Tartus in August 2008. The Guardian reported at the time that the seaside murder was perpetrated by a sniper firing from a yacht moored offshore.
‘Israel’ has never commented publicly on suspicions that it was involved. But newly revealed secret US intelligence documents state as a fact that Israeli special forces killed the general.
The revelation comes from an internal National Security Agency document provided by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and cited by the Intercept, edited by Glenn Greenwald. It said that a top-secret entry in the NSA’s internal version of Wikipedia, called Intellipedia, described the assassination by “Israeli naval commandos” near Tartus as the “first known instance of ‘Israel’ targeting a legitimate (Syrian) government official”.
The details of the assassination were included in a “manhunting timeline” within the NSA’s intelligence repository, the Intercept said on Wednesday.
The US embassy in Damascus reported at the time that ‘Israel’ was the most likely suspect, according to a secret cable released by WikiLeaks in 2010.
Suleiman was described by Syrian officials as dealing with defense and security issues in Assad’s private office in Damascus. Israeli and Syrian opposition sources claimed he worked as “liaison” with Hezbollah.