Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has reportedly dismissed two high-ranking intelligence officials after the pair engaged in a violent argument and exchanged blows.
“General Rustom Ghazaleh, head of political intelligence, and General Rafiq Shehadeh, head of military intelligence, were fired at the beginning of the week by President Assad after a violent dispute between the two men,” a top security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP on Friday.
The source added that Ghazaleh has been replaced by his former deputy, Nazih Hassoun, while Mohamed Mahalla has been appointed as military intelligence chief.
The quarrel broke out as Ghazaleh pressed for greater share in operations against foreign-sponsored militants in Syria’s southwestern province of Dara’a. “A violent disagreement erupted and Shehadeh’s men beat up Ghazaleh badly,” the source said.
Ghazaleh was briefly hospitalized after the incident two weeks ago, but was readmitted later following complications related to hypertension. Ghazaleh is now said to be in a critical condition.
Syria has entered the fifth year of foreign-sponsored turmoil, which has taken a heavy toll on many people. New figures show that 215,000 people have lost their lives since chaos broke out in March 2011.
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