By Nabil Al Mulhem
Damascus -- Albawaba.com
A senior Syrian army officer tuned down reports that the exiled brother of the late president Hafez Assad, Rifa’t, is able to bring about trouble in the country.
Rifa’t had threatened on Monday a revolution in Syria, as he cast doubt on the constitutionality of nominating his nephew, Bashar, to succeed his father.
“Rifa’t Assad lost legitimacy and people’s confidence in 1983, a long time he was ousted as vice president in 1998,” said the officer on condition of anonymity.
He was referring to an unsuccessful coup by Assad’s brother in that year. Assad did not take any action immediately, but decided in 1986 to throw the power-greedy brother out of the country.
“When Rifa’t left the country to France, he was accompanied by 600 of his supporters, most of whom were soldiers and officers of the Defense Regiments, which he was in charge of,” the top officer added.
The source went on to say that the special security unit was dismantled after Rifa’t’s departure, and many of its personnel were relocated among other army services.
However, Rifa’t Assad still had many supporters in Syria, to whom he used to send monthly allowances, said the officer. But those were eradicated after what was dubbed as “the harbor incidents” six months ago.
According to the official statement, Rifa’t’s supporters were using a private seaport that belonged to their master in smuggling operations. A unit of the Republican Guards, a special force led then by Bashar Assad, cracked down on the outlaws and put an end to their rewarding business.
Meanwhile, sources here confirmed to Albawaba.com that the banished bother had asked Syrian authorities to allow him attend Assad’s funeral, but he was denied that, on the claim the late president had not wanted his brother to be among his mourners.
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