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Exiled Assad uncle says plan underway for regime change

Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad's exiled uncle, a former regime insider accused of carrying out the Hama massacre in 1982, said there is a “family initiative” being worked out in order for Bashar al-Assad “to step down.”

On Wednesday, Rifaat al-Assad told Radio Sawa that he will play a part in returning authority from the Assad family to the Syrian people.

“It is not possible for the current governance in Syria to continue. Intervention, on the family level, must be carried out to save Syria from sectarian strife and prevent foreign interference,” he said.

He added that military action or international interference in Syria will happen when all “family diplomatic means” and “all Arab and international diplomatic means” do not yield results.

Rifaat al-Assad commented on Syria’s “democratic future,” and said he will not hold on to a certain position after a transitional phase in Syria and that he will work hard to return authority to the Syrian people.

Asked about the Syrian opposition, he said it is “incapable of overthrowing the regime in Damascus,” and added that a “military coup” is possible if the situation reaches a dead end.

Rifaat al-Assad, aged 73 or 74, is the younger brother of Syria's former dictator Hafez al-Assad and was a feared figure who commanded his internal security forces in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Then, in 1983, with his brother receiving treatment for heart problems, he tried to seize power himself. The attempt failed, Hafez recovered, and the next year Rifaat left Syria for a long life in well-heeled exile.

-NOW Lebanon

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