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Posted at 11:28 AM ET, 07/18/2012

Who’s who in Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle?

A bombing in Damascus on Wednesday killed Syrian Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, his deputy Asef Shawkat, and former defense minister Hassan Turkmani — three individuals who were close to President Bashar al-Assad.


A file photo from June 2000 shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, with his brother Maher Assad, and brother-in-law Major General Asef Shawkat, left, stand during the funeral of late president Hafez Assad in Damascus, Syria. (STR - AP)

Here is a list of some other key people in Assad’s inner circle you should know about.


Name: Maher al-Assad

Position: Brother of Bashar al-Assad; head of presidential guard; commander of the 4th armored division

What we know: The United Nations Mehlis report mentioned him as a suspect in the 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. He also reportedly shot Gen. Asef Shawkat after becoming angry about some remarks he made.

***


Name: Farouk al-Shara

Position: Vice president

What we know: He was foreign minister from 1984 to 2006, when he ascended to become Assad’s No. 2. He is Muslim and a senior member of the Arab Socialist Baath Party. In October 2005, he was accused of misleading international investigators probing the assassination of al-Hariri.

***

Name: Hafez Makhlouf

Position: Head of intelligence for Department of General Intelligence

What we know: He survived the car crash that killed Bassel al-Assad, brother of Bashar al-Assad, in 1994. He is known to work closely with Maher al-Assad. Last year, the E.U. imposed sanctions against him for being involved in crackdowns against demonstrators.

***

Name: Abdul Fatah Qudsiya

Position: Head of military intelligence

What we know: He was appointed as military intelligence chief in 2009, and has been sanctioned by the E.U. for being involved in the crackdown during the Syrian uprising.

***

Name: Ali Mamluk

Position: Head of General Security Directorate

What we know: He was formerly deputy chief of Syrian air force intelligence. The United States and the E.U. have also imposed sanctions on him, saying he is responsible for human rights abuses. Under his directions, regional heads of the organization have been said to order massive crackdowns in Homs and Latakia provinces, killing several civilians during the uprising.

***


Name: Rami Makhlouf

Position: Prominent businessman

What we know: Makhlouf controls Syria’s mobile phone network, SyriaTel. According to the BBC, no foreign companies can do business in Syria without his consent. According to cables released by Wikileaks, he was identified as a key financier for the Syrian regime.

For our full Syria coverage, click here .

See photos from the Syrian unrest.

By  |  11:28 AM ET, 07/18/2012

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