Syria's Suleiman al-Assad reportedly kills two critics

Syria's Suleiman al-Assad reportedly kills two critics
Analysis: The president's cousin was arrested on 10 August for the murder of a Syrian colonel. Now reportedly a free man, Latakians say that he killed two opponents last week.
3 min read
26 August, 2015
Residents of Latakia and Tartous have paid a heavy price for Syria's war [AFP]

A member of Bashar al-Assad's family accused of killing a Syrian army colonel has allegedly killed again after being released from prison.

Suleiman Hilal al-Assad reportedly gunned down two of his opponents in the past few days, according to a report in the Syrian Observer.

They include Waddah Yousef, director of Sham Radio. The pro-regime station reportedly broadcast an interview with the brother of a murdered colonel, Hassan al-Sheikh, who said that Assad was behind the officer's killing.

There were reports that the colonel was killed by pro-regime militias last week.

Nabil Hamdan was an engineer who led demonstrations calling for Suleiman al-Assad to be brought to justice, with many protesters calling for his execution.

Assad allegedly promised, on his Facebook page, to take revenge against all those who spoke out against him.

Confusion surrounds the fate of Suleiman al-Assad. 

On 10 August, Syria's state news agency said Assad had been "arrested" and was "transferred to the appopriate authorities".  

However, shortly after, Twitter users said that he had been freed. 

Reports surfaced in Syrian media that Suleiman al-Assad posted on his Facebook page that he was a free man, and thanked the country's ruler for releasing him. There are conflicting reports over whether Suleiman is Bashar al-Assad's cousin or nephew.

Some Twitter users said that he was released as he was classified as "mentally unstable".

Reports of his release were denied by some figures close to the regime, but rumours persisted, nonetheless. 

Suleiman al-Assad was the son of a pro-regime militia leader who was killed in a battle with rebels.

He allegedly shot Colonel Sheikh dead following a road rage dispute in the regime's Latakia stronghold. The murder of the officer led to thousands protesting on the streets of the Alawite-majority Latakia province.


It reflected growing anger among regime loyalists about Assad's management of the war - notably the sacrifice of normal Alawites to the war effort, and the excesses of the Assad family.

Demonstrations have taken place in Tartous demanding the government assist the trapped Syrian military at Kweres airport, currently under assault by IS militants. There were also reportedly calls for Suleiman's death at the march.

Malcomite, a Twitter user sympathetic to the Syrian opposition, believes that the protests are likely to turn against the Assad family themselves.

The Twitter user also alleged that protesters in Tartous were also against Iran's growing power in Syria - and that the demonstration was quelled by Iranian-supported Hizballah fighters from Lebanon. This cannot be independently verified.

Analysts say that Assad's military force is rapidly disintegrating, and that he is increasingly relying on militia forces - as well as Iranian, Hizballah and foreign fighters - to stay in power.

A report in Syrian Observer said that "gangs" deployed to protect the Homs-Tartous highway were robbing and kidnapping travellers.

With the wayward behaviour of Shabiha mafia groups and Assad's family members, it appears that even party loyalists are growing tired of the regime's management of the war.