MARCH 16 2012 08:29h
E-mails: Father-in law counseled Assad
Fawas Akhras, a London cardiologist and father of Assad's wife, Asma Assad, complained the United Nations was inappropriately concerned about the Syrian death toll when many more died in the U.N.-approved NATO bombing campaign in the revolution that overthrew Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, an e-mail obtained by the British newspaper The Guardian indicated.
The United Nations estimates 7,500 people have died since the crackdown began, making Syria's the bloodiest of the Arab revolts. Akhras has suggested as many as 50,000 died in Libya.
Akhras -- who founded the 500-member British Syrian Society in 2003 to "foster relations at all levels" between the two countries -- said the West was hypocritical in criticizing Assad-regime brutality, given "harsh and inhuman attacks on the demonstrators in Wall Street and London," the e-mail said, referring to the police response to Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and the August 2011 rioting, looting and arson in parts of London and other British cities and towns.
The e-mail was one of more than 3,000 intercepted by members of a Syrian opposition group between June 2011 and last month.
The e-mails, which The Guardian said it believed were genuine, appear to be from private e-mail accounts belonging to Assad and his wife, Asma Assad.
Akhras, 66, didn't respond to follow-up requests from The Guardian -- he told the newspaper during one request he was busy with a patient.
But he spoke with the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph Thursday, pointing out that when the London riots erupted, British Prime Minister David Cameron "said he would get the army out -- now would you compare that to Homs?"
Homs is a devastated western-central Syrian city and former rebellion epicenter that the Assad regime bombarded with tanks, helicopters, artillery, rockets and mortars for almost all of February before claiming control.
Reminded by the Telegraph that British authorities quelled the August riots without killing anyone, Akhras said, "We are not as sophisticated as the Metropolitan Police or Scotland Yard."
Akhras encouraged Bashar Assad in a late-night Dec. 19, 2011, e-mail to publicly dismiss a forthcoming British TV news documentary -- showing video of Syrian children being tortured -- as British propaganda aimed at "triggering a Syrian genocide."
The disinformation argument "might be of some help towards drafting the embassy's response to [the] Channel 4 video," the e-mail about the public-service TV report is purported to have said.
The e-mail quotes him as signing the note, "Warmest with love xx."
Akhras advised the Syrian leader in a separate e-mail to counter allegations of torture by Syrian forces by pointing to an alleged U.S. "torture policy" at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a separate e-mail is purported to say.
A different December e-mail quotes Akhras as suggesting the BBC operated a "facts distortion policy," deliberately suppressing an interview that suggested the opposition Free Syrian Army had only a small number of supporters.
The rebel army of defected Syrian armed forces members was estimated by activists around the time of the early-December e-mail to have 15,000 to 25,000 soldiers -- Western intelligence sources estimated greater than 10,000.
By mid-January, the army reported about 40,000 men in its ranks.
The British Syrian Society, of which Akhras is a co-chairman, had no immediate comment on The Guardian report.
The group's members, including a former British ambassador to Syria and several members of the noble class, have distanced themselves from the Assad regime, The Guardian said.
Its Web site says the society "is saddened and appalled at the violence and loss of life in Syria. Our thoughts and wishes go out to all our friends in Syria and we dearly hope for an end to the troubles that have overcome Syria since March 2011," a United Press International review indicated.
The Guardian said the disclosure that Akhras took such an active role helping the Assad regime would create embarrassment for a number of society establishment figures.
LONDON, March 16 (UPI) -- Bashar Assad's father-in-law counseled the Syrian leader during his brutal crackdown, including how to rebut video of apparent child torture, e-mails indicate.