The violence in Syria is hitting increasingly close to home for President Bashar al-Assad as rebels encroach on his inner circle. Today brings news of both more defections and a violent attack on Assad's brother Maher, the commander of the Syrian Army's Republican Guard and 4th Division.
According to Reuters' Dominic Evans, Maher lost his leg in a bomb attack on Syria's security cabinet last month, the same attack that killed four members of Assad's inner circle, including his brother-in-law:
"(Maher al-Assad) lost one of his legs during the explosion, but don't know any more," a Western diplomat told Reuters. A Gulf source confirmed the report: "He lost one of his legs. The news is true."
Meanwhile, the cousin of Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa, Gen. Yuaarab al-Sharaah, has joined the revolution according to Al Arabiya, the latest high-profile defection since the departure of Prime Minister Riad Hijab. "The cousin of the Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Shara announces his defection in an exclusive recording via Al-Arabiya," said the network's news anchor in a broadcast earlier today. (Earlier reports incorrectly stated that Farouk al-Shara had defected.) It looks as though the Assad regime will have another defiant defector to deal with on the PR front. Already, its ex-prime minster continues to be a headache for the regime, floating claims of Assad's impending downfall. “Based on my experience and my position, the regime is falling apart morally, materially, economically,” he said at a news conference in Jordan this week. “Its military is rusting, and it only controls 30 percent of Syria’s territory.” With today's news about Assad's brother, though, the wounds rebels are inflicting on Assad are becoming increasingly personal.