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Syria Retracts Decision to Hand Over Suspects in Deadly Army Attack to Lebanon

| 06.05,09. 10:40 PM |

Syria Retracts Decision to Hand Over Suspects in Deadly Army Attack to Lebanon

Syria -- purportedly responding to intervention of Lebanese political parties -- has retracted its decision to hand over suspects in last month's violent attack on an army patrol to Lebanon.
The daily An Nahar on Wednesday said Syrian authorities arrested overnight Saturday Hasan Abbas Jaafar, Mohammed Ali Jaafar and Fayyad Ismail after they crossed the border from Turkey.

The paper said Syria has informed Lebanese intelligence of its decision to hand over the three suspects to Lebanon.

It said "pressures" in Lebanon from the Jaafar clan led to the "political intervention" toward Damascus in a bid to force it to refrain from handing the suspects over to Lebanon.

Syria responded to these interventions, according to An Nahar.

Meanwhile, Lebanon did not yet receive Hussein Jaafar, the main suspect in the April 13 attack on a Lebanese army patrol in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

Jaafar was arrested in Turkey after entering the neighboring country with forged papers.

Pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat on Tuesday said preparations were underway in Syria to hand over Jaafar to Beirut authorities.

It quoted a Lebanese security source as saying that the Lebanese army intelligence will interrogate Jaafar upon his extradition and refer him to the military court.

On Monday, Jaafar was being questioned by Syrian authorities who informed Lebanon that they will hand him over once they are done with interrogating him.

A high-ranking Lebanese official told Agency France Presse that Damascus was trying to determine how Jaafar managed to enter Turkey with a fake Syrian ID. The suspect had been arrested in Turkey which sent him back to Syrian officials.
Jaafar is wanted in Lebanon in connection with the April 13 in which four soldiers were killed when their vehicle was raked with bullets and blasted with a grenade in an apparent drugs-related ambush.

Jaafar is the brother of Ali Abbas Jaafar, a drug baron killed by the army in March after refusing to stop at a checkpoint. He was wanted on a variety of charges, including drug trafficking and attempted murder.

His killing prompted the ambush on the soldiers.

Lebanese authorities have issued arrest warrants for Hussein Jaafar and seven other suspects in the case.

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