Reports Say Asir Changed His Looks as Clerics Say He's in Syriaإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Islamist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir, on the run since the Abra battle, has likely appeared in an audio and not a video recording due to the fact that he had to change his physical appearance in order to be able to flee the military crackdown, reports said on Friday.
LBCI television said Asir's wife Amal and some of the clerics relatives and close aides in Sidon have confirmed the authenticity of the audio message.
In a recording uploaded Thursday to YouTube, SoundCloud and gulfup.com, a defiant Asir described the deadly Sidon clashes as a plot aimed at ending his presence in the area, accusing Hizbullah of leading and supervising the fighting in the southern city and its suburbs.
“These people are trying to give the impression that this recording is their first evidence that Asir is still alive, although security officials have doubted that, saying the family had received other proofs,” LBCI said.
It quoted sources close to Asir as saying that “he did not appear in a video because the requirements of hiding maybe forced him to change his appearance, such as having to shave his beard, and therefore he won't appear audio-visually before he regains his previous looks."
Quoting "some clerics who are close to Asir and who tried to mediate during the clashes," LBCI said the fugitive cleric had managed to leave Lebanon and enter Syria.
Meanwhile, "security authorities continued to analyze the content and technical aspect of Asir's recording to verify if the voice is that of the cleric, although the military judiciary is confident that Asir is still alive and that's why he was mentioned in the lawsuit," LBCI added.
"Security agencies are also trying to determine how the recording was uploaded to some websites in a bid to identify its source or the individuals who published it, but no progress has been made in this regard," the TV network said.
Eighteen soldiers were killed and 20 others were wounded in fierce clashes with gunmen loyal to Asir on June 23 and 24. Twenty members of Asir's armed group were also killed.