Bashar al-Assad’s enforcer brother Maher lost a leg in a bomb attack on the Syrian leader’s security cabinet on July 18, according to Reuters sources. The Syrian president’s younger brother – known as the “most feared man in the country,” “the Butcher of Dera’a” and “the enforcer” – is the commander of the Syrian army’s Republican Guard and 4th Division, which are elite formations largely composed of troops from the Assads’ minority Alawite sect.
“We heard that he (Maher al-Assad) lost one of his legs during the explosion, but don’t know any more,” a Western diplomat told Reuters.
A Gulf source confirmed the report: “He lost one of his legs. The news is true.”
A Saudi paper had previously reported that a Russian deputy foreign minister told them Maher Assad lost both legs, but Russia denied the report.
The July 18 attack on a meeting of Assad’s security chiefs in Damascus killed four members of the president’s inner circle: his defence minister, who was the highest ranking Christian in the regime; his brother-in-law, who was deputy commander of the military; his military adviser to the foreign minister; and his national security chief.
Maher has not been seen in public since the attack while Assad has only been seen on recorded clips broadcast on television.
An Islamist rebel group called Liwa Al Islam, or “the Brigade of Islam,” told Reuters that it had planted explosives in the building as part of a month long plot, and video of the attack seems to confirm their claim.
The civil war in Syria has already claimed the lives of at least 18,000 people and has begun to spill over its borders amid sectarian tensions.