After an 18-month uprising, Syrian President Bashar Assad is willing to relinquish his power, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Saudi paper Al-Watan. Bogdanov said that what’s needed now is a way to ensure a smooth transition of powers.
The Russian diplomat also revealed that the president’s brother, Maher Assad, was severely injured in the blast that killed several key regime officials in Damascus last month. Assad’s presence in the building was previously unknown.
According to the report, Maher Assad, who is the commander of Syria’s 4th Division and the Republican Guards in charge of protecting the capital, lost his legs and suffered life-threatening injuries to his lower body in the explosion. “He is still struggling to survive,” Bogdanov told the daily.
Four senior officials were killed in the blast that took place in the national security headquarters, including deputy defense minister Gen. Assef Shawkat, who was married to Assad’s elder sister, Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, National Security chief Gen. Hisham Ikhtiyar and Hassan Turkmani, a former defense minister.
Bogdanov said that the security situation in Syria has rapidly deteriorated since the explosion in Damascus.
“Putting down the weapons is the best solution to prevent Syria from deteriorating into civil war, which we believe is imminent,” Bogdanov told Al-Watan in a phone conversation. “We [Russia] are the only ones who believe in a drive toward a political solution.”