Report: Former vice-president of Iraq under Syrian army protection

Published May 11th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

The former vice-president of Iraq is being sheltered at a military base in the Syrian capital Damascus, according to a Gulf diplomat, speaking to the British Telegraph newspaper. 


Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of Saddam Hussein's closest henchmen, is said to be under the protection of Syria's Republican Guard in a military base near the airport. 


He is among many regime figures who are believed to have slipped into Syria before Damascus sealed the border.  


"The Syrians allowed him to stay," the diplomat told The Telegraph. "A substantial sum of money was paid to cross the border on an unmarked route used by shepherds." 


Rassem Raslan, a former Syrian ambassador to Paris, said that Izzat Ibrahim had been a regular visitor to Damascus in the past two years. "There were many opportunities for officials from Baghdad to come here and build relations," he said. "People who were involved in improving trade ties and putting the oil pipeline into operation have been able to use their connections to get in," he added, according to the newspaper. 


Meanwhile, many former Iraqi officials are making plans to move out from Syria. Last week, American intelligence officials accused France of providing passports to fleeing regime officials who want to come to western Europe. 


The French government denied the charges, but a Syrian employee of the French embassy in Damascus claimed that eight Iraqi officials from the oil and finance ministries had been given passports in the middle of April. 


"The commercial section of the embassy received passports for eight Iraqi officials and members of their families," he said. He claimed that Paris also ordered that a passport issued for Tahir Jalil al-Habbush, a former head of Iraq's intelligence service who is on America's wanted list, should be cancelled soon after it had arrived. (

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