Beirut / Berlin - According to a report by the German newspaper Die Welt the Syrian military intelligence chief Shawkat attempted to seize power by force in February, but was arrested after Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyah informed Assad of the plot
An attempt to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad's government was thwarted without the international community's ever having noticed, Die Welt reported yesterday, citing international German intelligence sources.
The report stated that Assef Shawkat ( pictured) , Syrian military intelligence chief and Assad's brother-in-law, planned to seize control of the government while the president was hosting a meeting of the Arab League in Damascus in February. Shawkat was detained along with a hundred other Syrian intelligence officers.
According to Die Welt the killing of Mughniyah had been planned by Shawkat's associates, as retaliation for the disclosure of the planned rebellion.
Two months ago former Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam told a Lebanese news network that Assad had decided to take advantage of Mughniyah's death in order to dismiss Shawkat and to appoint his nephew Hafez Makhlouf in his stead.
According to Khaddam, the reason for Shawkat's dismissal was that the latter, after having been chosen to lead the investigation following Mughniyah's ( pictured ) murder, proved that the explosion that caused the Hezbollah leader's death had taken place inside the car, and that the killers had come from Syria.
This version contradicted the one that Assad had ordered published, according to which Mughniyah was killed by the explosion of a gas tank in his car.
Claims of Syrian intelligence officers' involvement in Mughniyah's death have been voiced recently. The Lebanese paper Al-Shiraa claimed that Syrian intelligence had broken into the homes of two of its officers on March 29, and killed them with shots to the head. The paper claimed the officers had been murdered due to their involvement in the targeted killing.
Saudi Arabia's Okaz newspaper reported on February 24 that Mughniyah's widow, who is Iranian was extremely angered by the murder of her husband and blamed it on "treason and treachery" without expanding what she meant and whom she had in mind as the traitors .
Mughniyeh's widow requested immediate departure from Syria to either Lebanon or Iran , but the Iranian embassy decided to take her to Tehran away from the Lebanese media.
After reaching Tehran Mughniyah's widow, accused the Syrian regime of involvement in the murder. She said "This is why the Syrian regime has refused the help of Iran and Hezbollah in the investigation of the murder."
The General Secretariat of the Damascus Declaration also accused the Syrian regime on March 17 of involvement in the assassination of Mughniyah .
A statement issued by the Damascus Declaration headed by former MP Maamun al-Homsi stated: "It is our duty to expose the crimes of the Syrian regime and specifically the killing of Imad Mughniyah and the deception that accompanied this crime."
Tags: Die Welt, Hezbollah, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Mughniyeh, Shawkat, Syria, Ya Libnan