‘Disappeared’ Assad Appears in Public

August 19, 2012  

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who it was believed had disappeared, has surfaced briefly in a Damascus mosque. The country’s state-run television network aired footage of the elusive president performing the prayers for the Eid al-Fitr holiday that concludes the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Sunday’s appearance is Assad’s first in public since a July 18 Damascus bombing on the country’s security cabinet. It was believed that Assad had fled or otherwise disappeared, a day after a suicide bombing decimated his security and defense staff.

The attack killed half of the government’s six-member crisis council, including Assef Shawkat, Assad’s brother-in-law. Assad’s brother, Maher al-Assad, lost a leg in the attack and has not been seen in public since.

Among the dead were Syria’s defense minister and three other top security officials, including Assad’s brother-in-law.

Last Thursday, senior defense official Colonel Yarab al-Shara announced that he, too, had defected, joining the dozens of top military officials and diplomats who abandoned Assad’s regime.

Al-Shara, a cousin of Syrian vice president Farouk al-Shara, labeled Assad’s government a “murdering regime” in a message broadcast on the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya satellite news network.

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