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'Liquidated' Syrian Defense Minister "Appears" on State TV

Former Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib, reportedly found dead on Tuesday, appears on Syrian state TV. The date of clip is not clear.
By Chana Ya'ar and Nir Har Zahav
First Publish: 8/10/2011, 12:40 PM

General Ali Habib
General Ali Habib
Syrian state TV screen shot

Syria's former Defense Minister, General Ali Habib, who was reportedly found dead at his home less than 24 hours after his dismissal by President Bashar al-Assad, has "appeared" on Syrian state television.

However, the date of the film clip is not clear as all evidence that might offer specific information about when the interview was filmed, seems to have been edited out.

“Due to my health I entered the hospital for several days,” Habib told viewers in the clip. “The media reported, as part of a campaign of incitement against our nation, stories that do not have a glimmer of truth about the termination of my position. I emphasize these are false reports, designed to sow confusion in Syria, among the army and in the nation.”

The Syrian website “New Syria” reported Tuesday that the former defense minister was discovered dead at his home.

Opposition activists reported he was assassinated in an operation directed by the president's brother, Maher Assad.

Official news media reported the general had died of a disease.

The Arabic-language A-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Tuesday morning that Habib had opposed the lethal operation at Hama by government forces that cost the lives of hundreds of civilian protesters. Western diplomats today (Wednesday) concurred with that report.

Monday afternoon Assad suddenly announced in a surprise move that he had replaced Habib with his chief of staff, Daoud Rajha.

Syrian television reports about contradicting reasons for Habib's dismissal were later denied, with newscasters claiming his departure was due to health problems.