Mass Arrests of Syrian Military Officers
Although the motive is not entirely clear, it appears that Assad has made a preemptive move to avoid a military coup.
Washington DC - December 26, 2006/RPS/ -- RPS has learned that last week the Syrian armed forces arrested several mid to high ranking officers of the Syrian Armed Forces in Deir el-Zour, Idlib, Aleppo (The second largest city in Syria), and Hama in surprise, high visibility raids that netted tens of officers. It was not clear why these active military officers were arrested but sources close to the facts on the ground have pointed to RPS that suspicion by the Assad regime that a military coup may have been in the planning. The raids were backed by tanks and personnel carriers. All of the cities raided happen to be in northern Syria.
Yesterday, more arrests were made in Hama and Homs the second and third largest cities in Syria that were not reported by the news. RPS sources cited that even though those two cities have considerable Islamist presence, those arrested were not Islamists. Also, it was not known whether the arrests were made against Syrians that are active in the military or just civilians. The cause for their arrests was not known but was expected given the large arrests of last week once intelligence is sifted through.
Baschar al-Assad has traveled outside Syria in the last few weeks after refusing to leave the country for at least six months for fear that in his absence someone will mount a coup. Given how extensive the raids of last week were, Assad without a doubt will re-assess his military by ordering a clamp down that will inevitably hurt the morale of his generals and army officers. Experts believe that this continuous looking-over-the-shoulder by Assad can damage Assad's rule more so than can UN sanctions or isolation by the international community.