Assad runs brutal war: ex-top official

Assad runs brutal war: ex-top official

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Assad runs brutal war: ex-top official

Buildings damaged during clashes between Syrian rebels and government forces are seen in the Al Qusour neighborhood of Homs. Ex-deputy oil minister Hussameddin talks to Hürriyet Daily News reporter İpek Yezdani in Istanbul.

Abdo Hussameddin, Syria’s former deputy oil minister, who defected four months ago, said the Syrian regime operates two large oil refineries in Homs and Banis, using oil produced in these refineries mostly to fuel the Syrian army.

“[President Bashar] al-Assad is securing his brutal campaign through these refineries. These days no oil is imported from outside [the country], and he is using oil produced inside the country to fuel his tanks and military vehicles rather than for his people,” Hussameddin told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview yesterday.

Hussameddin announced his defection from his post March 8 via a video on Youtube, and defected to Jordan from Syria. He recently came to Turkey and has been living in Istanbul under the protection of the Turkish government for some time.

“The regime has been slaughtering people in a very brutal way. I couldn’t accept the situation there and I decided to leave my position and defect with my family. After I left Syria with my wife and children they confiscated all my property there,” Husameddin said.

“Assad could destroy the oil fields at Deir ez-Zor”

Clashes between Syrian and revolutionary forces have been accelerating in the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, where many oil fields are located, Hussameddin said. “If the regime loses control in the villages of Deir ez-Zor then they will certainly burn and destroy the oil fields there.” Nawaf al-Bashir, a prominent Syrian opposition figure and leader of Syria’s largest tribe, Al-Baqqara, said more than 400 people have been killed in the last 20 days, with more than 3,000 people killed by the regime in Deir ez-Zor since last spring.

During a press conference held in Istanbul yesterday, al-Bashir said around 20,000 people have been arrested, and 60 percent of families have fled to other cities from Deir ez-Zor. As a government insider from al-Assad’s inner circle, Hussameddin said he didn’t think al-Assad would ever step down.

“I know him and people around him; neither he nor the people around him would ever think of giving up leadership in Syria,” Hussameddin said. Hussameddin was appointed by al-Assad as deputy oil minister in June 2009.