Lebanese authorities uncovered what they said was a plot by top Syrian military officials and a former Lebanese minister to assassinate political and religious leaders in order to undermine and destabilize the country.
A Lebanese judge on Saturday charged Syrian National Security Bureau head Ali Mamlouk, Brig.Gen. Ali Adnan, and former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha with forming an armed gang that planned to launch a series of terrorist attacks to assassinate political and religious leaders and incite sectarian conflict.
Their targets included MP Kahled Daher, his brother, MP Mouin Merhebi and figures supporting the Syrian opposition, according to Lebanese news agency LBC International.
Samaha, an ardent pro-Syrian, was arrested on Thursday morning at his home in Beirut, but the two Syrian officials are not in Lebanese custody. The charges against Syrian security officials mark an unprecedented move by Lebanon against Damascus and its allies, most notably Hezbollah.
Neither the Syrian government nor Hezbollah commented on the case.
Should the men be convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to hard labor or death, a judicial source told Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star .
The charges against the Syrian military officials came as three senior Syrian officers defected and fled to Jordan on Saturday.
Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Al-Jabawi, the deputy police commander in Homs, and Colonels Qaseem Shammari and Ali Al Alloush deserted President Bashar Assad’s armed forces and entered the Hashemite Kingdom via the Ramtha border crossing. Jordanian and Free Syrian Army sources confirmed the accuracy of the report.
Syrian opposition sources reported at least 90 people were killed in clashes between regime and rebel forces on Sunday.