Diplomatic sources have revealed that the head of Germany’s BND intelligence agency went to Damascus last month for an unscheduled visit during which he met with Syrian officials led by Major General Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syrian military intelligence. Gerhard Schindler made the trip to Damascus just days after Israel’s bombing raid on the Syrian capital on May 5 accompanied by the Director of the German intelligence unit dedicated to fighting “international terrorism”.
The security chief was passed information about the jihadist organisations which are fighting against the Assad regime in Syria. This information was obtained by Syrian intelligence after the capture of a number of jihadist leaders. The data includes the names of some foreign fighters, especially Europeans, who are fighting alongside those groups. Representatives from the intelligence agencies in Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have arrived in Damascus for the same purpose.
The sources also claim that one of the objectives of Schindler’s visit was to reach an agreement by which Israel will allow Hezbollah to enter Syria to defend the regime, as long as “that does not affect the interests of Israel”.
Although the German government has supported the sanctions imposed on the Assad regime and has stressed repeatedly the necessity for him to step down, it now looks as if there is a noticeable shift in Berlin’s assessment of the conflict. News magazine Der Spiegel’s May 22 edition quoted Schindler as saying, “The Syrian army has now become very organised with the best combat experience after two years of armed conflict, in addition to its capacity to counter armed rebels and defeat them.”