Sheikh Ahmed Salman Al-Hajri
Sheikh Ahmed Salman Al-Hajri Reuters

Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara on Monday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of being behind the death of Sheikh Ahmed Sleiman (Salman) Al-Hijri's, a Druze leader who had been opposed to Assad.

Al-Hijri died on the weekend  in a death that was blamed on “a car accident,” according to a statement released by the Syrian government's Syrian News Agency (SANA).

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Kara said that even though the Syrian government said the death was a result of a car accident, he has received information which indicates that the death was staged in an incident which is typical in Syria and in which the regime eliminates its opponents.

Kara said that two months ago Al-Hijri was asked by the Syrian government, including by Assad personally, to ban and excommunicate a Druze officer who defected from the army to the ranks of the Syrian opposition. The sheikh, said Kara, declined to do so.

The story began when the Syrian intelligence demanded that the officer's father renounce his son because of his defection, and the father said, “I'm a father and cannot do it to my son.”

Kara explained that as such, a fatwa was required from the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Syria, Sheikh Al-Hijri, to excommunicate the son. Syrian intelligence agents went to Al-Hijri's home and sought a fatwa denouncing the officer.

Kara said that the sheikh asked to meet with President Assad regarding the issue, and during the meeting declined to excommunicate the officer. The intelligence people came back to his home after a few hours and asked again, by Assad's request, that he make a decision on the matter. The sheikh reiterated his refusal and in response, the intelligence personnel confiscated the vehicle that he had received from the state. The Syrian opposition members subsequently decided to purchase a replacement vehicle for the sheikh.

Kara added he is convinced that the Syrian regime ordered the sheikh’s death, despite its claims that he died in a car accident. According to the Deputy Minister, Syrian opposition officials with whom he is in touch them gave him all the details and asked him to distribute the information to the West.

Kara’s office added that “the Syrian regime is known for its expertise in similar accidents. It previously ordered the murder of Lebanese leader Kamal Jumblatt, and has eliminated several prominent Druze leaders in the past years, as well as many other leaders from Syria and Lebanon.”

Assad's troops have been accused by the New York-based Human Right Watch organization of using Syrian civilians as human shields as they advance their war on opposition forces across the nation, now entering its second year.

Meanwhile on Monday, Syrian forces again shelled the flashpoint central city of Homs, killing at least eight and setting several homes ablaze.

Local human rights activists say government shells struck several parts of Homs on Monday as part of a now daily assault on remaining centers of resistance in the city.