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"Syrian agents" confessions forced by U.S. and Iraq

Al-Jazeera | March 30 2005

The families and relatives of the Syrian citizens, who appeared on Iraqi state television confessing to allegedly being Syrian intelligence officers, confirmed that the "officers" are merely leather dealers who left their shops in a small Syrian town in order to sell their products in the neighbouring Arab country.

The families confirmed that Ahmed Al Farra and Mahmoud Al Rammah were threatened and forced by Iraqi and U.S. intelligence agents to make anti-Syrian political confessions as part of a well-organised campaign aimed at destabilising Syria in an attempt to build up a case which would allow for the striking of it.

"My son Ahmed is a colonel! A colonel in the intelligence! He has not even completed his elementary school. He is a sick man who has recently undergone several surgeries," said Umm Ahmed the mother of Ahmed Al Farra, the Syrian citizen who appeared on Al Iraqiyya Satallite TV Channel, claiming that he was a colonel in the Syrian intelligence apparatus which was running agents in Iraq and managing insurgents camps.

Umm Ahmed said she was surprised to see her son Ahmed appearing on the Iraqi state television, but her surprise turned into an utter shock when he said that he was a colonel serving at the Syrian intelligence!

"Ahmed never left this town for long periods of time since his birthday in 1977. He has always been busy collecting raw leather materials, handling them, then selling them throughout the country. It was only few years back when he became convinced to sell his products in Iraq as he was told that he can make more money over there," she said.

Umm Ahmed wondered how a 27-year-old man could be a colonel or a brigadier.

She further urged international human rights groups, the media, and the UN to help free her son from the "hands of those who have captured him and forced him to make the false statement."

Dr Ziyad Al Hiraki, a physician based in the Syrian town of Ma'arat Al No'uman, said that the second "Syrian intelligence officer" who appeared on the Iraqi TV station making confessions against his own country, was nobody but Mahmoud Al Rammah, one of his patients.

"I've known Mahmoud for a long period of time since he is a sick man with chronic heart diseases. I was shocked to see him on TV since I knew that it was very difficult to him to travel since he can not even walk," said Dr Al Hiraki, adding that due to his size Mahmoud kept sitting throughout the interview and that his "interviewers" were keen not to show his disability.

Meanwhile, Imad Abdulrazzaq Al Sheet, a leather dealer from Ma'arat Al No'uman, said that he knew both Ahmed and Mahmoud for a long time since they all work in the same profession.

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