Syria’s Former Defense Minister Appears in Video to Prove He Wasn’t Murdered

Syrian state television shows clip of Ali Habib Mahmoud expressing support for Assad regime; calls rumors of his death 'completely fallacious'.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Syria’s state television aired clip of deposed Syrian defense minister Ali Habib Mahmoud, Tuesday, after rumors circulated that Habib Mahmoud had been murdered due to criticism of the killing of demonstrators in Hama by Syrian forces.

“I remain a loyal soldier in the Syrian army,” Habib Mahmoud was shown saying.

Syria's President Bashar Assad with Syrian Defense Minister General Ali Habib and Chief of Staff General Daoud Rajha, August 1, 2010.Credit: Reuters

Habib Mahmoud, in civilian dress, explained that his retirement from public service was due to health problems that required hospitalization. The broadcast was intended to dispel rumors that Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered his death.

Habib Mahmoud said the reports that he was fired because of criticism he had voiced against the killings in Hama were hostile and part of a coordinated campaign of incitement and lies concerning the reasons his service was cut short.

“The story is completely fallacious and aimed at harming Syrian sovereignty and its national army,” he said.

In the video, Habib Mahmoud, speaking in a low tone, expressed his loyalty to Assad.

According to a report in the London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper, the decision to replace Habib Mahmoud was due to his opposition to Syrian military actions in Hama, as well as the deployment of military units in a number of Syrian cities and districts.

On Tuesday, various opposition websites reported that Habib Mahmoud was fired and later executed by the Assad regime.

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