Wed 15 July 2020:
The Syrian regime appears to have intensified its campaign against high-ranking figures and officials accused of loyalty to businessman Rami Makhlouf, the cousin of President Bashar Assad.
However, the Al-Arab newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that the officers are known for their close ties to business tycoon, Rami Makhlouf who had been engaged in a battle of influence with the regime.
According to the sources, the officers recently pledged “to burn the earth in the event any harm is brought to Rami Makhlouf”.
Among those arrested was the head of the communications department at the State Security Agency, a critical institution that the regime has relied on to stay in power since the beginning of the war in 2011. The body was created in late 2010 with the aim of merging security branches concerned with communication, tracking and espionage.
The department’s mission is to track and monitor all communications and conduct periodic checks of offices of senior leaders and sensitive places for possibly planted espionage devices. The department also checks and controls all communication devices imported from abroad.
In April, the Syrian regime started a security campaign to take over companies owned by Makhlouf, who is President Bashar Al-Assad’s cousin.
Once at the heart of Al-Assad’s inner circle, Makhlouf has quarrelled with the authorities over funds which the government says are owed by his mobile phone company Syriatel.