Manaf Tlas, a senior Syrian army defector and son of a former defense minister, has returned to the headlines of Arab press Tuesday.
London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that Tlas met in Jordan with a number of defecting Syrian officers in preparation for a “quality operation” by the Free Syrian Army against the Assad regime and its bases of “sensitive weapons.” In a television interview Monday, Tlas thanked France for enabling his escape from Syria.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi leads with news of a meeting in Cairo between four regional powers, a “quartet” including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, on the developments in Syria. According to the report, no tangible agreements were reached for a course of action. Somewhat sympathetic to the Assad regime, the daily also reports that opposition forces have executed 20 regime soldiers in the northern city of Aleppo Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London claimed.
‘Do not become the border patrol for a criminal and despotic gang which will drag you and Syria into additional destruction,’ Lebanese leader Walid Jumblatt told his Druze community in Syria
Meanwhile, the daily reports that Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze in Lebanon, warned his coreligionists in Syria to distance themselves from the Assad regime, which is sure to fall.
“Do not be deceived by the regime and its suspect plans,” Jumblatt told his community in a weekly article he publishes. “Do not become the border patrol for a criminal and despotic gang which will drag you and Syria into additional destruction.”
“Massacres in Aleppo and Damascus; and Russia: Assad will resign if Syrians want him to,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. The daily reports the discovery of two new mass graves: one in the town of Zamalka near Damascus, with 17 bodies, and the other in the Tadhamun neighborhood of Damascus, with 34 bodies.
Meanwhile, Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera reports on the kidnapping of Syrians in Lebanon during the past months in retaliation for the abduction of a Lebanese Shiite, Hassan Miqdad, suspected of belonging to Hezbollah and entering Syria to fight alongside the regime.
The channel claims that the kidnappings have scared off Syrian laborers in Lebanon, whose number is estimated at 500,000. Nasser Al-Atwi, a building contractor, told the channel that the building industry has been badly hit by the lack of working hands, especially in the southern suburbs of Beirut and southern Lebanon, where the Shiite population is high.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tareq Homayed questions the eficacy of decisions issued by the “quartet” on Syria, especially regarding the Iranian participation in it.
“How can Iran be summoned to sit around a negotiating table on Syria after the Arabs had in the past opposed a proposition by Kofi Annan to include Iran in discussions on Syria? … Tehran is not a neighboring country to Syria like Turkey, and is not part of the solution, but rather supports Assad. So why attempt to involve Iran in Syria now, and to whose benefit?” writes Homayed.
Al-Qaeda leader killed in Yemen
The targeted killing of Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command in Yemen, Saudi national Said Ali Shihri, along with six companions, is widely covered in Arab press Tuesday.
The Yemeni army claimed responsibility for the strike in the southern region of Hadhramaut. Military sources told A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the US is expected to launch a widespread offensive against suspected Al-Qaeda bases in southern Yemen as a new batch of drones in expected to reach a Yemeni base in the coming days.
Al-Hayat dubs Shihri “Al-Qaeda’s bomb maker”, noting that he is considered ‘one of the most wanted men by the security agencies of the US, Saudi Arabia and Yemen’
Al-Hayat dubs Shihri “Al-Qaeda’s bomb maker,” noting that he is considered “one of the most wanted men by the security agencies of the US, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.”
But security and local sources told Al-Hayat the Shihri was not killed by the Yemeni army but rather by an American drone on the night of September 4, while hiding in a house in the Wadi Ein region.
The sources told Al-Hayat that numerous Yemeni spies are in contact with the American Embassy in the country, which provides them with SIM cards that they plant on the members of Al-Qaeda so that they can be tracked by satellites.