Ali Mamlouk, head of the Assad regime’s secret services, visited Rome in January and met Alberto Manenti, head of Italy’s external intelligence agency AISE, Le Monde newspaper reported on Wednesday. The newspaper said that Italy violated the EU legislative acts against officials of the Assad regime by welcoming Mamlouk who is responsible for many of the most brutal war crimes against civilians in Syria.
The European Union previously blacklisted Mamlouk along with Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher. The EU slammed sanctions and took legislative acts against senior regime officials, including an entry ban and assets freeze in response to war crimes those officials have committed against Syrian civilians since March 2011.
The French daily said that Mamlouk came to Rome “on a private jet made available by the Italian authorities” and met Manenti back in January.
Le Monde described the visit as a “slap to the victims.” The revelation of the visit came as regime forces backed with Russian aerial support are carrying out the largest mass forced displacement of civilians in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta. A rights watchdog group said it was “outraged” by the news of the visit.
“Attempts to rehabilitate the Assad regime contravene human values and risk damaging the credibility of Italy and the EU,” a Syrian activist said.
Another Syrian activist described the Italian move as “shameful”, adding that “international relations cannot be built solely on so-called national interests as the interests and rights of peoples must be taken into consideration.”
The Syrian Coalition repeatedly demanded the departure of Bashar al-Assad and his clique, including Mamlouk, from the beginning of the transitional period as was stipulated in all international resolutions, the latest of which was resolution 2254.