Assad's mother, sister in Tartus for Shawkat funeral

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's mother and sister have gone to Tartus province for the funeral of his brother-in-law Assef Shawkat who was killed in Wednesday's Damascus bomb, a security source told AFP.

"Anissa al-Assad, the widow of [ex-president] Hafez al-Assad and her daughter Bushra travelled on Wednesday evening along with several women from their entourage to Latakia and they then made their way to Tartus," the source said.

Shawkat, one of the regime security apparatus's hawks killed in the attack on the National Security headquarters in the capital, was originally from the western province.

"They [the women] have to participate in the funeral and receive condolences over the death of Bushra's husband Shawkat," the source said.

As Deputy Defense Minister and a former military intelligence chief, Shawkat was hated by the anti-regime opposition.

He belonged to the Alawite community – a Shia offshoot of Islam to which Assad's family also adheres – and was born to a family of humble origins in the Tartus village of Madhale.

A member of the inner circle of both Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar, Shawkat rose quickly through the ranks after marrying the late leader's only daughter in 1995.

Bashar's brother Bassel, who was being groomed to become president, had opposed their courtship and put Shawkat behind bars four times to ensure he stayed away from his sister.

But Bassel's death in a January 1994 car accident enabled their marriage to go ahead a year later.


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