Maher al-Assad, the brother of President Bashar al-Assad, has long been a feared figure within the regime. Violent, fiery and quick tempered, as commander of the 10,000-strong Republican Guard and the Fourth Armoured Division, he has been at the heart of some of the most bloody episodes in Syria’s two and a half year civil war.
But allegations over the weekend by an Israeli television channel that he was behind the chemical weapons attack have turned him from a figure of fear into one of loathing. Activists claim that much of the shelling originated from the huge base of the Fourth Armoured Division, just south of Damascus. The regime claims that rebels had used chemicals.
But Maher Assad is well known for his ruthlessness.
Trained at the Damascus military academy alongside his elder brother and heir to the presidency, Bassel, Mahar was the obvious choice to take over…
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