Assad’s feared brother resurfaces 2 years after rumored attack

Notorious leader of elite army division was said to have lost both legs in 2012 bombing

Maher Assad (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons / m.nadaff)
Maher Assad (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons / m.nadaff)

DAMASCUS — Syrian President Bashar Assad’s feared younger brother Maher has re-emerged in public two years after he was said to have been seriously wounded in a bombing, in a picture on the Internet.

Beirut-based Syrian singer George Wassouf downloaded on his official Facebook page a picture showing Maher wearing a navy blue T-shirt, jeans and looking relaxed.

The picture shows Wassouf standing next to the two brothers on a recent visit to Damascus.

On July 18, 2012, a powerful bomb struck a senior command center in Damascus where Syria’s top brass were meeting.

State media said the attack killed defense minister General Daoud Rajha, Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and General Hassan Turkmani, head of the regime’s crisis cell on the uprising against the regime.

A rumor at the time suggested that Maher, who commands the army’s elite Fourth Division that oversees security in the capital and the Republican Guard, was at the meeting and had lost both legs in the attack.

An official source dismissed the rumor, saying Maher was not at the meeting.

Maher, who is in his mid-40s, has a reputation as an impassive military leader.

Observers have said he played a central role in the regime’s crackdown on popular demonstrations against the rule of the Assads that broke out in March 2011.

Bashar Assad won a presidential election earlier this month, securing a third, seven-year term in office in a poll dismissed as a farce by his detractors.

Media reports have said Wassouf traveled to Damascus to congratulate Assad on his election victory.

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