Home > Libyan uprising, Syria in the media > Is Syria secretly supporting Gaddafi?

Is Syria secretly supporting Gaddafi?

There have been rumours circulating for some time of clandestine support being extended to Gaddafi by Syria. It started with talk of Syrian mercenaries participating in the violent crackdown on protesters in Benghazi. Then I received an email from a Barada TV viewer who said that he was one of many Syrian migrant workers stranded in Triploi who were evacuated by ship. I checked out the claim from multiple sources

Rebels celebrate after shooting down jet flown by Syrian pilot

and I discovered that a ship had indeed sailed from Tartus to Tripoli. The viewer claims that he saw many plain-clothed security men were aboard the ship, and that the ship’s crews demanded bribes to allow the stranded families safe passage back to Syria.

Circumstantial evidence perhaps. Reports then surfaced of Syrian mukhabarat arriving in Tripoli to “cleanse” the Libyan intelligence archive of evidence that may incriminate Damascus in acts of terrorism committed in the 1970s and 1980s. This particular allegation was made in Al-Hakika website, run by Paris-based Syrian journalist Nizar Nayuf. His source is an unnamed former MI6 intelligence officer who said that:

Last Wednesday [2nd March] UK authorities had observed Syrian mukhabarat officers arriving at Abdulsalam Jallud’s villa in the Libyan capital … It is believed that the “delegation” belonged to the external branch of the Syrian General Intelligence – or more likely – to the Air Force Intelligence.

Abdulsalam Jallud was considered to be the number two man in Libya until he fell out with Gaddafi in 1993. It is believed that he was involved in many acts of terrorism including Lockerbie, which were perpetrated with the active knowledge and support of the Syrians via the Abu Nidal Group and the PFLP-GC. Nayuf says that it is documents relating to these acts which are in the Libyan intelligence archives that the Syrian officers wish to destroy.

The story could be true, but I am deeply sceptical of Nayuf’s unnamed former MI6 source. A more credible report appeared in the 3 March edition of Intelligence Online (below), which says that Syrian pilots based in Libya have taken part in bombing raids against the protesters with the consent of Bashar Al-Assad himself.


The report claims that following telephone calls between the Libyan and Syrian leaders

President Assad told General Isaam Hallaq, the commander in chief of the Syrian air force, to instruct the pilots and technicians in Tripoli to help the Libyan regime should Gaddafi decide to bombard dissident regions.

A long-standing defence agreement between the two countries has meant that a number of Syrian pilots are stationed in Libya to train with the Libyan air force.

Intriguing.. and quite possibly true. What gives this story a large degree of credability was the shooting down yesterday of a Libyan air force jet by rebels, killing both pilots. After checking their ID papers, the rebels discovered that one of the dead pilots was a Syrian.

A cameraman working for France 2 captured the moment. Watch the video here.

It is of course saddening to hear of Syrians participating in attempts to crush the Libyan revolution. Unfortunately, it is does not surprise me in the least. Not only is the Libyan dictator one of Syria’s closest Arab allies, his downfall may encourage Syrians to rise up against their own regime. Reason enough then to make sure he survives.

  1. Ramzi Nohra
    March 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    “Not only is the Libyan dictator one of Syria’s closest Arab allies…”
    I must admit I had not heard of any recent links between the two countries, eg visits of presidents, rhetoric from Gadaffi praising Syria, or of Assad praising Libya etc – can you give some more evidence of this?

  2. March 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Is that the only hole you can pick in my argument? That’s pretty poor.

  3. Ramzi Nohra
    March 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Malik – I wasnt aiming to undermine your arguement. You may be right.
    You are saying that Syria and Libya are close allies. I am asking you to prove it. Seems reasonable, no?

  4. howaida
    March 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Hello Malik,

    Many thanks for your article. It is great to hear a loud clear fearless voice of truth for a change! Many people know very well Syria’s security dirty deals with the Libyan regime and it depends on what type of evidence one would need to prove such a link. Of course the authorities in Syria are now very frightened. If the Libyan dictator goes then the Syrian dictator(s) will go too. It about time to wake up people of Syria!you have the final say and it is only you who can make it happen. It is enough… more than enough.

    • March 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      I think the evidence for Syria supporting Gaddafi has become conclusive, especially after Syria decided to vote against the no fly zone over Libya in last week’s Arab League meeting.

      Also, the people of Benghazi have already made up their minds. During a demo in the city yesterday (Saturday), protesters carried placards saying:يا بشار يا جبان دز جنودك للجولان which translates as: Bashar you coward send your soldiers to the Golan!
      Here’s the pic: http://on.fb.me/g6Cjlh

  5. Ihab
    March 16, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Ok, I will give you a confirmed thing..Gaddaf-al Dam(blood squirter) who is Gaddafi’s cousin and trustee and was head of the Libyan/Egyptian relations committee travelled to Damascus from Cairo in the Early days of the revolution.. I am not sure of the date, 2Osomething February?. It was quite a short visit, I believe lasted for no longer than 2 hours and he returned to Cairo.

    Of course that doesn’t prove anything and if Syrian rgeime is actually ‘lending’ fighters and pilots but it is indeed a very fishy visit at a critical time.

    This was mentioned on telly on both Jazeera and Alarabyia.. I will try to find a link to it to prove me point

    I can’t find a proper article covering that short visit especially that I can’t do a proper search with his name having like a zillion spellings but it’s mentioned here:

    Diplomatic sources revealed to the “Hayat” daily newspaper, that Qadhaf Al Dam, one of Gaddafi’s sons, has surprisingly reached Damascus. (25/2/2011)

    – I don’t think it was a diplomatic brunch

  6. Ihab
    March 16, 2011 at 1:47 am

    another video by a French tv channel showed pilots after their plane was shot down..one of them allegedly had Syrian documents/passport etc..though they ddn’t show his papers..it was on youtube..I’ll try to find it again

    there you go:

    (2nd pilot is Syrian they say)

  7. March 17, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Thank you Ihab for posting the video. Conclusive evidence I think of Assad’s collusion with Gaddafi. Mnny Syrians I have spoken to are ashamed of their country’s role in supressing the revolution in Libya. This collusion will only inflame anti-regime feeling in Syria as the protest movement seems to be getting off to a start there.

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