Saqr Challenges Foes to Prove Involvement in Arms Trade as he Broadcasts Original Tapes

Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc MP Oqab Saqr challenged the Syrian government and his Lebanese foes on Thursday to prove that he was providing rebels with weapons after he broadcast the original tapes in which reports said he was striking a deal to arm the fighters.

OTV and al-Akhbar newspaper, both close to the Hizbullah-led March 8 majority coalition, broadcast and printed a three-part series of the recordings in which the lawmaker allegedly discussed arrangements to ship arms supplies to the Syrian opposition.

But during a press conference he held in Istanbul on Thursday, Saqr said the audiotapes were stolen from two computers and only partially broadcast.

The MP broadcast instead several of the original tapes. In one of them he told a rebel identified as Abu Nehman that he supported the Syrian revolution but did not provide arms to the rebels after the man asked for “iron.”

Saqr said he was negotiating with Abu Nehman the release of the remaining Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria's Aazaz but OTV and al-Akhbar cut the recordings to accuse him that he was striking an arms deal.

Nine Lebanese remain kidnapped in Syria since May after two of them were released in August and September.

The MP said at the press conference that he along with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri and Saudi officials were supplying Syrians with milk and blankets.

Mockingly, he told reporters: “We distribute milk for Syria's children” and not arms as the media outlets have claimed.

The lawmaker promised reporters attending the conference to hand them copies of the tapes, saying they could analyze them in the best labs in the world.

Describing OTV, which is owned by the Free Patriotic Movement, and the pro-Hizbullah al-Akhbar as "fools" and the “Shabeeha” of the Assad regime, he said the March 8 coalition had “fallen into the trap and would not be able to come out of it.”

Addressing FPM chief Michel Aoun without naming him, he said “you are a liar” and "you worship the seat” of the presidency.

“You no longer have legitimacy,” Saqr told the March 8 alliance.

“A recording neither ruins me nor Hariri,” he said, adding his foes “needed a bigger explosive device than the one that killed” Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau chief Wissam al-Hasan to get rid of him.

Al-Hasan was killed in a car bomb blast in Ashrafiyeh's Beirut district on Oct. 19.

“I am not afraid of you,” he said.

Saqr also challenged the Syrian judiciary to prepare a case against him a day after Syria's Speaker, Mohammed Lahham, said in a statement that the assembly in collaboration with judicial authorities will prosecute the MP and those who allegedly participated with him and provided the political cover for the alleged arms transfer.

Lebanon's General Prosecutor Judge Hatem Madi also tasked on Tuesday the Central Criminal Investigations Bureau with examining the recordings.

Addressing the issue of Lebanese men killed in Syria's border town of Tall Kalakh, the MP said the Salafists were lured there to be slain and then to accuse him of inciting them to fight in the neighboring country.

Around 14 men were killed and three others were captured when they were ambushed by Syrian regime forces as they infiltrated Tall Kalakh to fight alongside the rebel Free Syrian Army.

"The Syrian revolution will emerge victorious," Saqr said, adding "Those who distance themselves from the Syrian crisis are criminals."

The MP also revealed that he has been the target of assassination plots. “Three groups have been sent to Turkey to kill me,” he said without giving further details.

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