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Maher al-Assad on Facebook two years after rumoured attack

AFP , Saturday 21 Jun 2014
Maher al-Assad and George Wassouf
Syrian singer George Wassouf appears in a photo with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's younger brother Maher (left). Photo courtesy of George Wassouf Facebook page)
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Syrian President Bashar al-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 centre in Damascus where Syria's top brass were meeting.

State media said the attack killed defence 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 rumour 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 rumour, 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 al-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 travelled to Damascus to congratulate Assad on his election victory.

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