- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A leaked Syrian government document shows that the regime orchestrated last month’s border clashes with Israel.

Syrian security forces were told to grant free passage to 20 protester-filled buses and allow them to cross the cease-fire line with Israel, according to the memorandum, which was obtained by the Daily Telegraph.

“All security, military, and contingent units are hereby ordered to grant permission of passage to all [20] vehicles (47-passenger capacity) with the attached plate numbers that are scheduled to arrive at [10] in the morning on Sunday, May 15, 2011 without being questioned or stopped until it reaches or frontier defense locations,” the memorandum says.

The document, which bears the Syrian state emblem, was written and sent after what it describes as an “urgent meeting” between the army’s deputy chief of staff and senior intelligence officials in Al-Qunaitera province, which is adjacent to Israel.

“Permission is hereby granted allowing approaching crowds to cross the cease-fire line [with Israel] towards the occupied Majdal-Shamms [a town in the Israeli-held Golan Heights], and to further allow them to engage physically with each other in front of United Nations agents and offices,” it says.

The document, which also bears the signature of the mayor of Al-Qunaitera province, is dated May 14, 2011, the day before the clashes, which occurred simultaneously with similar rushes on Israel’s borders with Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

The memorandum says that “it is essential to ensure that no one carries military identification or a weapon as they enter, with a strict emphasis on the peaceful and spontaneous nature of the protest.”

A Syrian Embassy spokesman did not return a voice-mail request for comment and did not answer subsequent calls for comment.

The Washington Times could not independently verify the authenticity of the document.

Michael Weiss, the Daily Telegraph blogger who obtained the document, told The Times that his source is a “very well-informed Syrian in a position to authenticate state documents,” though not currently in the government himself.

Tony Badran, a Syria specialist for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said he “didn’t need the document” to know that the Syrian government was behind the clashes.

“Just like busing jihadis from the airport and downtown Damascus to the Iraqi border was not a spontaneous event that happened without the regime’s knowledge and/or coordination, having buses move through a restricted military area was also not a spontaneous event,” he said.

The clashes last month turned deadly when Israeli forces fired on infiltrators. Syrian state television claimed that 13 were killed.

“There’s a media blackout on Syrian television on the domestic repression, but somehow they had cameras ready at the border,” Mr. Badran said.

The document has emerged as the death toll from Syria’s crackdown on anti-government protesters reached 1,300, according to opposition figures.

The Reform Party of Syria, a Washington-based opposition group, previously claimed that the regime had paid the protesters $1,000 each and promised a payment of $10,000 to the family of anyone killed by Israeli fire.

Israeli officials had no comment about the document leak Tuesday, but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down.

Mr. Lieberman also called on the European Union to withdraw its ambassadors in Damascus.

• Ben Birnbaum can be reached at 138247@example.com.

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