Assad’s cousin appointed as new chief of Republican Guard

Assad’s cousin appointed as new chief of Republican Guard
Bashar Assad has replaced the commander of the Republican Guard, appointing one of his cousins as the leader of the elite mechanized division tasked with protecting the country’s leadership, the Lebanese website NOW reported.


Although official state media has not reported on the decree, a number of pro-regime outlets said Thursday that Brigadier General Talal Mahklouf had replaced Badiaa Ali as the leader of the Republican Guard.


The new chief—a scion of the Syrian president’s maternal Makhlouf family—previously commanded the 105th Brigade based in the northeast Damascus suburb of Adra.


Human Rights Watch (HRW) in late 2011 identified Makhlouf as one of the officers responsible for the brutal crackdown of peaceful protests in Syria, with former Republican Guard soldiers telling the NGO that the general gave direct verbal orders to shoot at demonstrators.


The pro-opposition Al-Eithad Press cited a "well-informed source" as saying that they expect "more decrees to be issued in the coming hours relieving military officials as well as in the government and the security services ."

Observers read this appointment as an indicator of a shaky trust Assad has in the larger circle around him, hence resorting to the closest family members.

Others see this move as a sign of an apparent conflict between Russian and Iranian interests, linking them with Assad security. 

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