WikiLeaks to release 2.4 million emails involving Syrian government

The anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks on Thursday began publishing what it says are more than two million emails from the Syrian government, opponents of the government and companies that do business with Syria.

The emails, dating from August 2006 to March 2012, will be released over the next two months on the WikiLeaks website and newspapers around the world. 

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The first batch of 25 files are already up on WikiLeaks's “Syria Files” section. Most of them suggest that technology from Italy's Finmeccanica industrial group has been used in President Bashar Assad's crackdown on rebels.

In a statement, founder Julian Assange said shedding light could help bring a peaceful resolution to a conflict that has left more than 15,000 people dead over the past 16 months.

“The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria’s opponents,” Assange said in a statement. “It helps us not merely to criticize one group or another, but to understand their interests, actions and thoughts. It is only through understanding this conflict that we can hope to resolve it."

The leaks come as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to participate Friday in Paris in the latest meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria,” a grouping of more than 60 Western and Arab nations seeking a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The meeting comes less than a week after the United States, Russia and several other countries signed off last weekend in Geneva on a transition plan that critics said left Assad's future unclear.

“Our hope and expectation is that many of the countries who were not able to participate in the Geneva meeting, but will now be at the Friends meeting in Paris, will have had a chance to study the document — it’s now out in public — and will be able to add their voices to those of us who have already endorsed it as a strong way forward and give Special Envoy Kofi Annan their political support going forward,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday.