Syrian intel chiefs pulled guns to settle argument; Assad’s brother in law is reported dead

Special to

LONDON — Syria’s powerful military intelligence chief is said to have been
killed in a feud within the regime.

Opposition sources said Gen. Assaf Chawkat, Assad’s brother-in-law, was
killed during a violent argument with Syrian General Intelligence Service
commander Gen. Ali Mamlouk, Middle East Newsline reported. They said Mamlouk pulled out a gun and shot
Chawkat to death.

Bashar Assad (right) with his brother Maher (left) and brother-in-law Gen. Assaf Chawkat (center) in June 2000. /Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters

“There was an argument over how the war against the rebels was being conducted and both men pulled guns,” an opposition source said.

The sources said Mamlouk managed to shoot Chawkat first and the military intelligence chief was taken to a hospital where he either died or went into a coma. They said Mamlouk was arrested.

Chawkat has long been a controversial figure in the Assad regime. In 1999, Chawkat was shot and injured in an argument with the president’s younger brother, Maher.

Reports have repeatedly surfaced of senior Assad aides being killed or seriously injured in gun battles. In July, Vice President Farouk A-Shaara was reported to have been killed during an argument at the presidential palace. Hours later, he appeared in public without any trace of injury.

Chawkat was said to have played a major role in the regime’s efforts to
quell the rebellion. The sources said Maher and Chawkat planned and directed
daily attacks on rebel strongholds, particularly in the central province of

The opposition has intensified its campaign against the Assad regime. On
Dec. 11, a general strike was reported in several areas of Syria as heavy
fighting took place between rebels and Assad forces near the border with

“The strike was observed 100 percent [in Homs],” the Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights said.

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