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Air strikes would wreck Assad, says former Syrian general

May 29th, 2012
06:47 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Syrian defenses under a western attack would “collapse right away,” a former Syrian general told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Tuesday.

Akil Hashem dismissed as “just excuses” the idea, promoted by Western intervention skeptics, that Syrian air defenses are very sophisticated.

It was an idea articulated by Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in testimony before the U.S. Congress in March.

“They have approximately five times more sophisticated air defense systems than existed in Libya,” Dempsey said. “All of their air defenses are arrayed on the western border, which is their population center.”

Hashem refuted this.

“They know more than me that this is not the truth,” he said. “It is good to face civilians…but when it face a superior power, it will collapse right away.”

Low morale, low defections

Morale in the Syrian army, Hashem said, is “very, very low.”

Nonetheless, fear of immediate retribution is keeping a lid on potential defections. Undercover security officers, Hashem said, are present in every army unit to ensure loyalty.

If the undercover security agent believes that someone, no matter the rank, is going to defect, “he can execute him right away, on the spot, without any hesitation, and no question will be asked.”

A fight to the end

Hashem believes that the idea of a political solution in Syria is nonsense.  He served under Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, who violently put down an uprising in the Syrian city of Hama twenty years ago.

There is “no way, ever” that Bashar Assad would step down, Hashem said.

“It concerns a huge establishment of so many thousands of people benefitting from this regime,” he said. ‘There is no way for a peaceful solution, in any way.”

Either the international community intervenes, or Assad will continue to slaughter his people, Hashem said.  Either way, Syrian opposition forces will not surrender.

“The Syrians will continue fighting this regime forever and ever,” Hashem said. “If he kills eighteen million people, yes, he will put an end to this revolution.  Other than that, there is no way.”

CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Toyin Lawanson

    The western powers should intervene in Syria to stop this senseless killings.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply
    • Toni

      I agree. Stop him now or otherwise we will be saying the same thing 3 months from now, 6 months, from, next year. Assad will not stop. He must be removed from power immediately.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:39 am | Reply
      • John

        how do you know America and CIA is behind all the stuff? one or two cities is not enough to say there is a revolution! the fact is this stuff has happened because America wanted it to happen! same with Egypt and with every single other country in the middle east. dont be naive KIDS

        May 30, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Darwin

      Why would the western powers intervene in Syria ??? Why the same shall not be applied to Israel ? Shacitaro has slaughtered 2000 civilians in what is known as Sabra and Chatilla massacres.... what have the western powers done against Israel ? We all know what is going on in the Arab world is nothing but a large scale deception for the sole benefit of establishing the Great Israel that will ultimately annexe Lebanon and Syria.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply
      • Rosmo

        I agree. One rule should rule everywhere but in this context I dont mean I support Assad or the israel either

        June 6, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • Don

      Since the morale in the Syrian Army is "very, very low" then I would suggest that the Western powers start an immediate and sustained bombardment of all Syrian positions, staging areas, headquarters and barracks to send a strong message ONCE AND FOR ALL that it would be in their best interest to desert and join the freedom fighters. The Army and the regime would collapse very quickly.

      May 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  2. RAY

    So how many soldiers he executed in his 27 years of service before he jumped the ship?

    May 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • akil hashem

      Sorry,the number is "0" I spent the first half of my service in the front, never been involved in any domestics, and the second half as a teacher in the military academy.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
  3. Prince Emeka Louis.

    President Assad should step down honourably now.Slaughtered is going to be him at the end.I pity his generations.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  4. Prince Emeka Louis.

    President Assad should step down honourably now.The voice of the people is freedom.Freedom can never be supressed.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
    • Toni

      Honorably? Are you kidding me? It's gone well beyond this, months, and month, and months ago. And further if you count his father. He needs to be put on trial for his crimes against humanity.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:46 am | Reply
  5. Reindolf asante

    if whatever the former military man says is anything to go by then i think the international community should rise up to make sure innocent lives are saved esp the children constantly been slaughtered in the country before he finishes the entire indigent who are against his stupid rule

    May 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  6. milad

    one-x vice president khaddam after 30 years of service defected after the killing of prime minister harriri, the lebanese portfolio was under his command and he made billions out of lebanon. Now he talks peace and freedom, and more like him, and this so called officer defected? why? is he retired? has he left syria? does he have interest with turkey? america? european nations? gulf nations? in the end the arab troubles are self interest of foreign nations/states. the gulf states and saudi arabia and israel want to weaken irans reach and cut syria up, the west want to weaken iran-russian influence in the region, mean while the syrians both pro and anti within are used by the west to fight kill each other. read what the UN has said re latest houla killings and youl find that the syrian army did not and no proof present of excecution type murder. Terrorist-armed gangs exit we know the whole world knows why not blame them. Bashar al assad should not resign as he is a victim of theis geo-political game the world is plaming to appease ISRAEL and its slaves.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Reply
    • akil hashem

      I left the military in 1989 after yraes of so many tries. I'm an american citizen, I do not need any thing from any one, just saving the syrian peoble from being killed. I'm so sorry that peoble who do not know any thing about me and about Syria make such kind of wrong comments.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
  7. sam

    Leave syria alone, doctor bashar al assad is wise and i trust in him only to serve all syrians sects and groups equally. this proof is found in his national syrian army. all walks of life exist in this syrian army fighting the so called free donkey army. the west are playing games,....why hasn't the BRICS bloc accused syria and bashar of the killings? why havent they kicked out syrian officials? cause the planned coridinated attack on syrian officials is the west implicating itself in the HOULA killings indirectly. they promote black water trained fanatics crossing into syria via turkey and lebanon. therefore they kill pro and anti and blame the other for it. BLOOD IS ON THE HANDS OF AMERICAN AND SAUDI BACKED MILITIAS ....GOD BLESS SYRIA AL ASSAD.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Reply
    • Karem Kaddoura

      Bashar is part of a corrupt family that is forcing its merchandise (opposition to Israel) to the nation at a very high price (oppression, cronyism, personal wealth etc.). The people of Syria shall overcome this tyranny and eventually have a head of state that can be committed to the Arab cause but not as self-centered hypocrite liar a criminal as Bashar.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:47 am | Reply
    • Toni

      Sam. Bless Assad? What god says it is okay to murder children? He is not exactly in good standing in the eyes of true Islam. Time to open your eyes and see the dictator for what he is – a war criminal of the worst order.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:49 am | Reply
    • Ilirjan

      Sam, if your guy (Assad) does not act quickly will end up like his collegue Gadafi did. I Hope he ends up like him asap

      May 30, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
      • Alexandro

        Fiorangela,A few years ago, Iran attempted to avehice normal relations with the US, in which the embassies would be reopened, but a sticking point was the US demand that Iran recognize Israel's right to exist. My understanding is that the Iranians agreed to accept Israel within its pre-1967 borders, but Israel vetoed the deal. I wonder if Charlie Rose is aware of this.Charlie Rose should distinguish between Israel's being accepted within its pre-1967 borders, and Israel's effort to be accepted with borders that remain undefined.

        July 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  8. Brad Williams

    Sam, you must be an alcoholic or pretending not to be President Assad.

    Assad is going down and going down hard, so very few people are listening to you.

    The key is to get to the head of the problem and destroy it, and then the rest will fall very fast.

    May 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Reply
  9. Ibrahim Amiri

    That President should step off the Authorities to leave others to Lead.
    One don't make many being anger b's their anger peak leads to high destruction

    May 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  10. JonabBC

    Message to the Syria are going down..... xxoo Canada

    May 29, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  11. jimmy lim

    Assad is a mass murderer of the most evil kind. Annan's plan has failed miserably. Annan must accept it otherwise the massacre will continue. there is no such thing as a diplomatic solution. Its beyond rescue. Assad must be eliminated for the sake of the syrian people. Military intervention must start. Period

    May 29, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Reply
  12. Rolland

    hey Amanpour,
    I wanted to remind u that Congolese people have died and no one have talked about it. We Congolese know why? Since October 1996, they have been 8 Million People, thousand women have been raped because our Natural Resources.
    Which help to build An Ipod ,Ipad, A Computer etc....You should start by the largest Conflict in the World.

    May 30, 2012 at 12:24 am | Reply
  13. elias

    if only the world armies were trained in saving lives instead of killing them.
    The whole US army could not save one single life when hurricane katrina came over new orleans over a period of weeks and months yet it can slaughter millions across the world in a single hour!
    What military might will do to kill for a single lie of WMD and to what length of excuses it will go to not intervene and save the syrians!–SHAME ON USA! SHAME ON UNCLE SAM'S ARMY!

    May 30, 2012 at 12:59 am | Reply
  14. gazzman

    Another Curveball who wants a war so he can get his snout in a pile of money.

    May 30, 2012 at 2:11 am | Reply
  15. Geo

    This man knows what he is talking about. Finally someone to tell the truth, instead of political games and bureaucratic nonsense.

    May 30, 2012 at 3:20 am | Reply
  16. paul

    The west should support the people of Syria but not intervene, it should be up to the countries in the region to get off their lazy butts and intervene – Turkey and the arab countries with logistic support from the west. Besides the opposition is dysfunctional and divided, if assad is removed then what, who fills the vacuum – Islamic extremists, communists.. certainly not democratic people...

    While this is going on how is Libya, egypt, yemen etc after all the talk about freedom they are not true democratic and free countries their still dysfunctional and still very much divided, look at Egypt where there is a choice of president of an ex minister of the previous government or a islamic brotherhood extremist – yeah real choices....

    May 30, 2012 at 7:02 am | Reply
  17. ali

    kill assad and his all family then we will have peace in syria.

    May 30, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply
    • John

      like how there is peace in IRAQ or Eygpt ? or what about Libya!
      dont be naive- i dont care about Assad but what im saying is that Western powers will not let M east to just be left alone-

      May 30, 2012 at 7:54 am | Reply
  18. jimmy lim

    Arab League/GCC countries should organise air strikes and arm the FSA to go after evil Assad. That is the only way out as the General said

    May 30, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply
  19. Don Montalvo

    It is time to take out Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

    The qestion is WHO WILL PAY FOR IT?

    Don Montalvo, TX

    May 30, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply
  20. Tutuvabene

    The guy makes sense. He would be in a better position to know the lay of the land. But then, would you ever trust a defector?

    May 30, 2012 at 10:27 am | Reply
  21. Brad Williams

    I think 100 countries can raise enough money to pay for what you suggest. You have to get to the root of the problem. There are many ministers and officers who will run, if you get too close to them. Some sort of palace strike would be messy, may I suggest the military buildings which house and or train officers and military airports too, which are probably all airports in Syria now.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:31 am | Reply
    • Barbara

      Okay, hophmi, for once you have a point. I have litlte firsthand knowledge of the Arab media, but I have read (secondhand) things along the lines you mention and it's entirely believable that government-run news agencies would be full of absurd lies. The Angry Arab blog regularly ridicules material in the Arab press though I'm sure he will also ridicule Cohen if he thinks it worth his time. But unfortunately the mainstream American press often acts as litlte more than government stenographers. Which was my point about Roger Cohen. Americans are too prone to overlook how much the criticism we toss at others applies at home and not just to the fringes on the left and right, but to the mainstream.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  22. taye

    I am not a supporter of the syrian govt but it hard to belive they did this what if the extrem opposition did this know killing of small children will bring more world attention and possible millitary strike to what they have wanted and see what the general is saying i guess they belive few should be scarifice to get the world attention so they can bring military action the rebel to me are responsible for this killing

    May 30, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
  23. mayhaveaname

    Cant understand what prevents NATO and allies to do selected air hits against military targets of Assad.

    May 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  24. WIlson Davis

    Assad's replacement will probably be a self-serving idiot also, but to sit and watch all of this murder and destruction of a once-proud country is appalling. As CHINA and the SOVIET UNION keep telling us this is no big deal and that diplomacy is the answer, puts this blood on their hands. Yes, other blood must be shed to stop this blood shed. But the greater good is to create an atmosphere whereby the Syrian people can regain control of their country. They should have the freedom to elect any idiot they want, just as we do in the USA. I don't really know anything about Syria but I can spot a one-sided, ass-kicking by armed forces against innocent civilians when I see it. The Syrian people are obviously a proud and brave people, more so than probably any of us westerners ever knew. God be with them.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  25. Christian Mayer

    The West will not intervene. Islam is not trusted as an honorable religion in the West for the most part. As long as Arabs are killing each other they are not attacking the West. As sad as it is I do not trust my government to tell the truth. Most of what we hear and see are distortions or half truths. Not blatant lies but not the whole truth.

    May 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Reply
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