Assad rebuilds fighting command, retaliates against Turkey
July 22, 2012
President Bashar Assad quickly recovered from the blow he suffered with the loss of his four top allies last Wednesday, July 18. Within 24 hours, he had put in place a new command for fighting the rebels headed by his younger brother Gen. Maher Assad, commander of the 4th Division, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report exclusively. He also appointed Gen. Ali Mamloukh to head the General Security Service; Gen. Hafez Makhlouf, military commander of Damascus; and Gen. Ali Hassan, new chief of the Alawite Shabiha militia.
Gen. Fahad Jassim al-Freij was sworn in as Defense Minister Thursday.
Despite a wave of desertions, the Syrian army was soon back on the job, showing no signs of shock or wavering at the command level.
Within 48 hours the army had driven the rebels out of the Maidan district of Damascus. And while some media focused on the rebels’ capture of two Syrian-Iraqi crossings Saturday, our sources report that Assad and his new command had already moved on and were busy with a tactical move in retaliation against Turkey for the assassinations at the top of Assad’s inner circle: They opened the door to an influx of rebels of the Turkish PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) from Iraq into Syria’s northern Kurdish regions, with permission to set up bases of operation along the Turkish border.