SYRIA: Several Syrian officers arrested by the Syrian intelligence services

DARAMSUQ (DAMASCUS) – Syrian intelligence services have arrested some 15 officers of various ranks in Daramsuq (Damascus) and environs on charges of dealing with foreign parties and embezzling Syrian state funds. The arrests come weeks after the arrest of employees of telecom mogul Rami Makhlouf, the maternal cousin of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Although the officially announced charges were dealing with external or foreign parties and embezzling Syrian state funds, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the new detainees had threatened to “burn the land in case any harm would come to Rami Makhlouf.” Meanwhile, the al-Areen humanitarian organization of Makhlouf announced the distribution of financial grants to families of victims of the Syrian Arab Army.

SOHR director, Rami Abdul Rahman beliefs the arrests come against the backdrop of the fall-out between al-Assad and Rami Makhlouf and his loyalists, after the regime already targeted his companies, foundations and militias, and arresting about 12 former members of the al-Bustan Association. Al-Bustan is an association annex militia led by Makhlouf which recruited militia-fighters to fight alongside the Syrian regime. According to newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, the al-Bustan members were arrested in raids carried out by the regime’s intelligence service together with Russian military police, mainly in the Latakia Governate.

With the recent arrest of the military officers, the number of arrested managers, employees, technicians and fighters affiliated with Rami Makhlouf, increases to about 71 people from Daramsuq (Damascus), Aleppo, Homs, Latakia and Tartous.