WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves the High Court in London, July 13, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)
The WikiLeaks website said on Thursday it had begun publishing more than 2 million emails from Syrian government officials that would embarrass not only Damascus, which is trying to crush a 16-month rebellion, but also its opponents.
WikiLeaks said in a statement the emails were from Syrian political figures, government ministries and companies, dating from August 2006 to March 2012.
The statement quoted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as saying: "The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria's opponents.
"It helps us not merely to criticise one group or another, but to understand their interests, actions and thoughts. It is only through understanding this conflict that we can hope to resolve it."
WikiLeaks said the emails, which it has called "The Syria Files", would shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy, and "also reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another".
The range of information extends from the intimate correspondence of the most senior Baath party figures to records of financial transfers sent from Syrian ministries to other nations, WikiLeaks said.
The revolt, which started with peaceful pro-democracy protests in March 2011, has turned into a something approaching a civil war as the government's crackdown triggered an armed uprising.
Opposition leaders and Western governments say more than 15,000 people have been killed in the uprising. The government says "terrorist gangs" steered from abroad have killed several thousand troops and police.