Damascus ‘spreads’ crisis into Lebanon

Damascus ‘spreads’ crisis into Lebanon

Damascus ‘spreads’ crisis into Lebanon

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Turkish officials have refrained from openly accusing the Syrian regime of being behind a Beirut car bombing that killed a top anti-Damascus security official on Oct. 19, but have stressed that the Syrian regime has been exerting efforts to spread its crisis into the Lebanese region.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement that harshly condemned the attack early Oct. 20, just hours after the bombing killed at least eight people, including Lebanese general Wissam al-Hassan of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), who was a prominent figure opposed to al-Assad.

“The Syrian regime is trying to spread the crisis in its own country to neighboring counties, in particular to Lebanon. The actions by the Syrian regime have been a terrorizing activity aimed at intimidating regional groups that might stand against their actions. In response the Lebanese administration has so far tried to follow a balanced policy,” said a Turkish diplomat speaking under the condition of anonymity.The attack on Oct. 19 is as critical as the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in remarks published by daily Milliyet on Oct. 21.

“We lost a friend with this attack. al-Hassan was a very close friend of Turkey,” Davutoğlu said, adding that al-Hassan assisted Turkey in the release of two Turkish citizens kidnapped in Lebanon, without specifying the event.

“During our latest meeting, he [al-Hassan] said that he was in danger. He was an element of balance in Lebanon and his death will lead to extraordinary reaction among Sunni segment,” Davutoğlu said. A senior Turkish official said there was no doubt the al-Assad regime is responsible for the killing of al-Hassan, though Foreign Ministry officials did not confirm the statement.

Milliyet also quoted anonymous sources as having said al-Hassan had a good relationship with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).