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October 16, 2019
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Saudi Arabia, UAE assist Assad regime in killing opposition leaders

ISTANBUL: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have reportedly assisted Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in assassinating leaders of opposition commanders.

Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported that the Gulf States, who backed opposition fighters during the early phase of the Syrian civil war, have aided the regime in Syrian in the killing of 80 opposition fighters between 2012 and 2014.

Details of the collaboration between Saudi and UAE with the Syrian regime were revealed during an exclusive interview with Mahmoud Sulayman, a commander of the Mohammad Al-Fateh brigade (an opposition group that was formed in 2015 and has close ties with Istanbul).

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi shared the location of many opposition commanders who were killed during bombing raids carried out by the Syrian regime were shared with Al-Assad by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Revealing details of the way in which opposition commanders were located, Sulayman said that the “the passwords of the UAE-made ‘Thuraya’ and the British-made ‘Inmarsat’ satellite phones, which were given to group commanders by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, were shared with Damascus, thus this information led to the killings of dozens of opposition commanders.”

Amongst those killed by the Syrian regime and its allies include prominent opposition leaders including  Zahran Alloush, commander of Jaish Al-Islam, Hassan Aboud and Khalid Al-Suri of Ahrar Al-Sham and Abdel Qadwr Saleh of Liwa Tawhid. These groups are known to have fought deadly battles against Al-Qaeda in Syria.

The revelations were made as Gulf countries take steps to normalise relations with a bitter rival in the region. The UAE was one of the first Arab countries to reopen its embassy in Damascus, marking a diplomatic boost for President Bashar Al-Assad. Following the opening, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash branded the Syrian opposition as “terror elements”.