Israel was responsible for the 2008 assassination of one of Syria's top government officials, according to an analysis of leaked U.S. National Security Agency documents released Wednesday.
NSA documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden show the United States knew Israeli commandos gunned down General Muhammad Suleiman on August 1, 2008, according to a report by The Intercept.
Suleiman was one of Syria's top military leaders and government advisers for decades.
Until now, Suleiman's killing was shrouded in mystery. The general was shot near his seaside holiday home near the resort town of Tartus. Initially, his sudden death was surrounded in speculation that he may have been the victim of an internal power struggle within the Syrian government. In the 1990s, there was repeated international speculation that Suleiman may have been a potential future presidential candidate.
“The internal … document, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, is the first official confirmation that the assassination of Suleiman was an Israeli military operation, and ends speculation that an internal dispute within the Syrian government led to his death,” the report by The Intercept's Matthew Cole stated.
An Israeli assassination of Suleiman would have likely violated international law, Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor of international law at Notre Dame told The Intercept.
“Under international law it’s absolutely clear that in Syria in 2008, they had no rights under the laws of war because at the time there was no armed conflict. They had no right to kill General Suleiman,” she stated.