A member of the Lebanese opposition Future bloc, MP Khaled Daher, was quoted as saying on Thursday that he had received information "more than confirmed" about the disappearance of Maher al-Assad the brother of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. According to him, Maher is either seriously hurt or was removed by President Assad from commanding military operations against protesters. The Lebanese politician challenged the Syrian media to show Maher al-Assad in front of the public in order to deny his statement.
Maher (44 years old) has been considered as the second most important figure in the Syrian leadership. Lieutenant Colonel Maher al-Assad heads the Syrian army's Fourth Division, which oversees security for Damascus and includes the elite Republican Guard. It is reported that hese units were involved in the brutal military operations against protesters since March 2011.
It is also reported that earlier this year the Prime Minister of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan warned Bashar al-Assad to "get rid of Maher who carries out acts of barbarity in Syria."
Meanwhile, according to rights groups, at least 41 people were shot dead by Syrian security forces during demonstrations on Thursday. The majority of the victims were reported in Damascus countryside.