The brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lost one leg in last month’s deadly attack on the country's security cabinet in Damascus, a Western diplomat and a Gulf-based source said on Thursday.
“We heard that he (Maher al-Assad) lost one of his legs during the explosion, but don't know anymore,” the diplomat told Reuters.
A Gulf source confirmed the report to the news agency: “He lost one of his legs. The news is true.”
The attack on July 18 killed half of the government's six-member crisis council, including the president's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat.
Maher al-Assad has not been seen in public since the attack. The report of his injury came as embattled President Assad issued a surprise decree Thursday appointing three new ministers, in a reshuffle following the defection of his former premier.
Syrian state television said Saad Assalam al-Nayef was appointed health minister, replacing Wael al-Halqi, who became prime minister a week ago after his predecessor defected to join the rebellion.
Adnan Abdu as-Sahni was named to the industry ministry and Najem Hamad al-Ahmad to the justice ministry. State television did not elaborate on why their predecessors were removed.
As the regime continues its 17-month-old battle against rebels, Syrian state media also slammed the decision Thursday by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to suspend the country's membership, saying the body served “Western colonialism” and its members supported “terrorists.”
At the end of an emergency meeting in Mecca, the OIC announced it had suspended Syria's membership of the 57-nation body, and expressed “deep concern at the massacres and inhuman acts suffered by the Syrian people.” The United Nations says at least 18,000 people have died in the revolt.
Relative of Syria VP defects
A cousin of Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Shara has defected, Al Arabiya television reported on Thursday, broadcasting a statement in which he called on members of the Syrian army to join the “revolution.”
“The cousin of the Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Shara announces his defection in an exclusive recording via Al Arabiya,” the broadcast announced. It identified the speaker as Yarab al-Shara.
During the broadcast Al Arabiya had scrolled a headline bar declaring that “Shara” had defected.