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Israel Assassinates Syrian General

samir al-sheikh

Gen. al-Sheikh takes oath of office as new governor of restive Syrian province in 2011. (EPA)

The respected publication, Intelligence Online, reported today that Samir al-Sheikh, the Syrian general responsible for intelligence operations in the southern sector bordering the Golan Heights, was assassinated on April 13th.  The publication notes that the typical Syrian resistance means of assassination are booby-trapped cars or grenades.  This killing was committed with a gun fitted with a silencer, indicating a different likely author of the crime.

The Hezbollah-aligned Al Akhbar noted that no Syrian resistance groups took responsibility for the killing.  It also said:

General al-Sheikh is one of the most senior Syrian army officers who runs the security branch responsible for all the Syrian borders, especially the southern borders with the Golan Heights and occupied Palestine.

While official Syrian sources refuse to comment on the issue, informed security sources told Al-Akhbar that “the assassination of al-Sheikh was done in a professional manner and is very similar to operations conducted by Israeli military intelligence and the Mossad against Syrian officers and scientists.”

My Israeli source confirms the hit was organized by the Mossad.  The general was targeted because recently he’d begun using Hezbollah fighters (Hebrew) to infiltrate the Golan and mount operations against the IDF.  In a separate incident, a bomb exploded (Hebrew) next to an IDF patrol alongside the military fence wounding four soldiers, one of them severely.  These operations were thought to be the work of Gen. al-Sheikh.

Interestingly, there has been no coverage of the Syrian assassination in the Israeli media at all, which suits the Mossad just fine.  If they’d wanted this murder known widely as a form of deterrence or boasting, they’d have gone out of their way to leak it to the Israeli media.

Over the past two years, while declaring its neutrality, Israel has mounted six air attacks against Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah installations and convoys transporting advanced weapons systems.  In at least one of these incidents, Israel attempted to destroy some of Russia’s most sophisticated air to sea missiles, which were intended for Hezbollah’s use in Lebanon.  In another attack, Israel killed the IRG’s senior commanding general in Lebanon.  So though Israel feigns neutrality, and is quite happy to allow Syrians to continue blowing each other apart, it ultimately views Assad as the more potent enemy.  Secondarily, Israel views the al-Qaeda elements of the Syrian resistance as another enemy, and it has lent a hand in various ways to the Free Syrian Army, which is one of the weaker fighting forces.

Further, Israel has actually sent commando teams into Syrian territory to liaise with Druze rebel fighters.  For this reason, Assad has been willing to mount reciprocal attacks against Israeli forces letting them know that he’s unhappy with such Israeli intervention.  Israel’s assassination of one of his senior generals is yet another “message” from Israel about its red lines.

This isn’t the first time that Israel assassinated one of Assad’s trusted generals.  Some years ago, Mohammed Suleiman, who was said to have masterminded construction of the Syrian nuclear reactor and been a key coordinator of weapons transfers from Iran to Hezbollah, was killed at his beachfront villa by an Israeli team which infiltrated by sea and used a sniper to do the job.

This is part of Israel’s standard repertroire of “statecraft.”  Instead of negotiating with its neighbors to resolve its disputes it pursues its interests out of the barrel of a gun.  It does it with the Palestinians, Hezbollah, the Iranians, and in this case, the Syrians.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Jackdaw May 8, 2014, 10:02 AM

    Someone rid the world of a rat. Should that be a cause of concern?

    • Richard Silverstein May 8, 2014, 1:22 PM

      @ Jackdaw: Then you don’t mind if Assad or Nasrallah sends an agent to rid the world of an Israeli general-“rat?” Or are Israelis, no matter how dirty, all angels?

      Your hypocrisy is epic & transparent!

      It is a violation of my comment rules to advocate or endorse murder. This is yet another violation. Just so you understand if one of these days I moderate or ban you. You’ll know why.

      • Jackdaw May 8, 2014, 9:16 PM

        Nasrallah, and Iran for that matter, already murder innocent Israeli and Jewish citizens in terror attacks in places like Bulgaria, Buenos Aires, etc.

        Generals, be they Israeli, Iranian or Swiss, live by the sword.

        • Richard Silverstein May 8, 2014, 9:32 PM

          @ Jackdaw:What convenient hypocrisy. You know no Israeli enemy is likely to assassinate an IDF general so you conveniently mumble “live by the sword, die by the sword.” But the moment an IDF general or Mossad chief was assassinated you’d be screaming bloody murder and demanding war crimes charges be filed.

          This blog insists on facts, not opinions in the guise of facts. There is no evidence whatsoever connecting Iran to the Bulgaria attack. That’s another comment rule violation. Read those rules carefully. Violate them once more and you’re moderated.

          • Jackdaw May 9, 2014, 12:17 AM

            Retired Magor General, Rehavim Zeevi was murdered by Palestinians, and if the guy below was assassinated,


            than Hezbollah/Iran would be the likely culprits.

          • Richard Silverstein May 9, 2014, 1:47 PM

            @Jackdaw: Yes, in the entire history of Israel there has been a single former IDF general assassinated because he insisted on living in a hotel in occupied East Jerusalem and insisted on not having security protection. The exception, not the rule.

            Plus you’re claiming an Israeli police officer shot in a random incident on the West Bank, in which no militant group has taken credit, is the work of Iran or Hezbollah? Without offering any proof? You’ve taken leave of your senses & are now moderated.

          • Deïr Yassin May 9, 2014, 3:26 AM

            @ Jackdaw
            You just don’t know anything about the Palestinians, do you ? How can you mention Zeevi (who was killed by members of the Popular Front as a retaliation to the killing of their leader) and then jump to the killing of Baruch Mizrahi, and claim Hizbullah and Iran were probably behind. What’s the link ? You’re trying to convince us that the Popular Front is some kind of Iranian proxy ? Like most people with a colonialist mindset, you think ‘your’ colonised people are too stupid to act on their own ?
            I swear, sometimes when I read some of the Israeli commenters here, I just laugh: is there some kind of combined car & brainwash stations across the State of Israel ?

          • Richard Silverstein May 9, 2014, 7:37 PM

            @ Deir Yassin:

            You just don’t know anything about the Palestinians, do you ?

            There is MUCH he doesn’t know, I’m afraid.

            About his being Israeli, his IP address resolves to New York City. So he may just be a wannabe, rather than the ‘real thing.’

          • Jackdaw May 9, 2014, 6:53 AM


            I didn’t claim Baruch Mizrahi was assassinated (like Richard claims Israel assassinated the Syrian).
            I said ‘if’ the guy was assassinated.
            Regarding Hezbollah, I said ‘likely culprit’, because the gunman seems to have been a crack shot and has so far eluded arrest.

  • dcdoc1 May 8, 2014, 2:42 PM

    “This is part of Israel’s standard repertroire of “statecraft.” Instead of negotiating with its neighbors to resolve its disputes it pursues its interests out of the barrel of a gun. It does it with the Palestinians, Hezbollah, the Iranians, and in this case, the Syrians.”

    This is part of [Iran’s; Palestinians’; Syria’s] standard repertroire of “statecraft.” Instead of negotiating with its neighbors to resolve its disputes it pursues its interests out of the barrel of a gun.

    • Richard Silverstein May 8, 2014, 8:07 PM

      @dcdoc1: So it’s your contention that Iran assassinates Israeli nuclear scientists & blows up Israel missile bases as Israel does to Iran? It’s your claim that Palestinians assassinate 20 or 30 leaders of Israeli political parties as Israel does to Palestinian leaders? It’s your contention that Assad has assassinated IDF generals as Israel has assassinated Syrians? If not, what the frig are you talkin’ about??

  • Jackdaw May 10, 2014, 4:38 AM

    [off topic comments will not be published]

  • dcdcoc1 May 18, 2014, 4:45 AM

    [comment deleted–all of these promotions for Israel hasbara have been argued here before by other hasbara commenters. Do NOT repeat comments & arguments offered repeatedly by others. It bores me to hell and wastes everybody’s time.]

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