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.
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.
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See photos from the Syrian unrest.