DNA Tests Confirm Burned Bodies not that of Asir and Shaker

Two charred bodies found in the southern city of Sidon in the aftermath of deadly gunbattles are not those of Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir and Fadel Shaker, a onetime prominent singer-turned Salafist, the state commissioner to the military court said Wednesday.

Judge Saqr Saqr confirmed that DNA tests of al-Asir's and Shaker's families revealed that the bodies were neither of the Salafist cleric, nor of Shaker or his brother.

Saqr, who is overseeing the initial investigation carried out by the military intelligence into the fighting between Asir's armed supporters and the army in Abra near Sidon, ordered on Monday the release of nine people who had been arrested at the end of the battles.

Thirty suspects remain in custody, the National News Agency reported Monday.

The fighting, which was sparked late last month when Asir's supporters opened fire on an army checkpoint, left around 18 soldiers and more than 20 gunmen dead.

The gunbattles concentrated in the area of Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque and nearby buildings.

Al-Asir, a 45-year-old cleric who supports the overwhelmingly Sunni rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, is no where to be found along with Shaker.

Asir teamed up with him when around two years ago he began agitating for Hizbullah to disarm.

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