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VIDEO: Syria rebels claim deaths of Assad's brother and defence minister, officials deny

A video claims responsibility for assassination of six high-ranking officials in Syrian regime including president's brother-in-law and defence minister

Yasser Seddiq and agencies , Sunday 20 May 2012
Assad
Syria's President Bashar Assad with Syrian Defense Minister General Ali Habib and Chief of Staff General Daoud Rajha. (Reuters photo/ file)
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Syrian opposition rebels have allegedly killed a number of top officials from the Assad regime on Sunday.

Satellite channels broadcast an amateur video showing an unidentified man claiming responsibility, on behalf of a rebel group, for the assassination of six officials.

Those named are part of President Bashar Al-Assad's inner circle and members of the regime's "crisis management" team, including: Assef Shawkat, Assad's son-in-law and military intelligence chief; Minister of Interior Mohammad Al-Shaar; Minister of Defence Daoud Rajha and national security chief Hisham Bakhtiar.

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, also reported the news but pointed out that the report has not been confirmed so far.

The Syrian rebel spokesman countered that the reports will be proved and unveiled in the coming few hours.

So far, two high-ranking Syrian officials denied in interviews with state television on Sunday reports by pan-Arab channels that they and four other regime stalwarts had been assassinated.

"What the disgusting Al-Jazeera is broadcasting is completely false," Shaar, one of those reportedly assassinated, told Syrian state TV by telephone. "We are used to this kind of news, and to these campaigns of lies and slander."

Also named were Hassan Turkmani, assistant to the vice president, and Mohammad Said Bakhtian, assistant to the Baath Party chief.

Turkmani, too, denied he had been killed in an on-screen interview during which he also slammed Al-Jazeera's report as "packed with misinformation."

Meanwhile, even opposition is expressing doubts about the veracity of the claims.

One member of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition coalition, said the goal of the video was to "sow doubts."

"There is a war that aims to demoralise people," according to SNC member Jabr Al-Shoufi.

The Syrian regime has accused Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, who aired the video, of inciting "discord" in Syria ever since a revolt broke out in March 2011.

Syria's rebels claim Assad's brother and defence minister killed: Officials deny

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