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Ex-Syrian deputy claims Assad threatened Hariri

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Ex-Syrian deputy claims Assad threatened Hariri

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In another diplomatic blow for Syria, the country’s former vice president has claimed his boss threatened Lebanon’s ex-prime minister Rafik al-Hariri before he was murdered.

In an interview with an Arabic news channel, Abdel Halim Khaddam also said that President Bashar al-Assad would have had to authorise any operation by the Syrian secret service to assassinate Hariri. Khaddam also blamed the Lebanese president for what he called inciting Syria against the increasingly independent-minded administration in Beirut. According to the ex-vice president, Assad told Hariri that he would crush anyone who tried to disobey him. The revelations look certain to increase the pressure on Damascus at a time when the United Nations probe into the assassination has said that Syria is not cooperating fully. Hariri was blown up by a massive car bomb in February. His death sparked protests that developed into what became known as the Cedar Revolution, in which Syria was forced to withdraw its troops after a 29-year presence.