This morning at 10:00 local time the Israeli DEBKAfile published a report that Ali Habib, the recently replaced Syrian minister of defense had been found dead and that associates to Bashar al-Assad was behind the killing. On twitter this news spread like a wildfire. Later today the Israeli newspage Ynet had this article on the possible death of Ali Habib. Ynet did not mention DEBKAfile as their source, but insteat pointed to an unnamed website connected to the Syrian opposition.
As far as I know DEBKAfile is not considered a serious news outlet. They have not mentioned their sources. Neither has Ynet.
Both Hala Gorani (CNN) and Brian Withaker (Guardian) has picked up this rumor and are giving it credibility on twitter. “@HalaGorani: Seeing reports Ali Habib, the Defense Minister Assad sacked yesterday, was found dead/died in his home. #Working #Syria“, “@Brian_Whit: Several reports now saying General Ali Habib, the defence minister who was replaced yesterday, is dead. #syria
Ian Black – Guardian (@ian_black) has on twitter made the following comment: “ali habib, sacked syrian defence minister is “more than alive” according to damascus source who saw him this morning”
So far no serious news organization have confirmed the death of Ali Habib let alone that he was executed/assassinated/murdered. What we have is a case of the Syrian/Damascus rumormill that started spinning, something I remember after the assassination of Imad Mughniyah and when Assef Shawkat dropped out of view among other. Yes, amplified by DEBKAfile and twitter.