Report: Spain Offered Syria's Assad Asylum

Official close to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero visited Syria in July to make proposal, according to newspaper El Pais report; Spain gave up on proposal as Syria regime's crackdown became more violent.

Spain in July sent a secret mission to Syria to attempt to find a solution to the current conflict there and offer asylum to President Bashar Assad and his family, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Monday.

A confidante of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Bernardino Leon, had unsuccessfully put forward proposals for a peaceful transition of power, the paper wrote.

Syria's Assad - Reuters - August 1, 2010.

There was no comment from the Spanish government on the report. As the Syrian government's crackdown on demonstrators has become increasingly bloody, Spain had also given up on the proposals, the paper wrote.

Leon was a foreign policy advisor to Zapatero at the time and is now the EU's special representative for the southern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, residents reported that Syrian forces shelled residential districts in Latakia on Monday, in the third day of an assault on Sunni neighborhoods of the port city which had seen mounting protests against President Bashar Assad's autocratic rule.

Latakia is the latest city to be stormed after Hama, scene of a 1982 massacre by the military, the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, capital of a tribal province bordering Iraq's Sunni heartland, and several towns in the northwestern Idlib province, which borders Turkey.