Bassel al-Assad

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Bassel al-Assad (Arabic: باسل الأسد, Bāssel al Assad) (March 23, 1962 – January 21, 1994) was the eldest son of Hafez al-Assad and the older brother of Bashar al-Assad.


Although Assad had studied mechanical engineering, he chose a military career. He was commissioned in the Special Forces and later switched to the armoured corps after training in the Soviet Military Academies. He rapidly became a major and then commander of a battallion in the Republican Guard.[1][4] He was also appointed head of presidential security.[5][6] In addition, he launched the Syrian Computer Society in 1989, which later headed by his brother Bashar.[7]

From a young age, Bassel Assad was groomed to succeed his father, President Hafez Assad.[8][9] After Hafez Assad recovered from a serious illness in 1984, Bassel began to accompany his father in his visits.[10]

Bassel Assad organized a highly publicized anti-corruption campaign within the regime, and frequently appeared in full military uniform at official receptions, signaling the regime's commitment to the armed forces.[11] He was also head of Syria's computer association.[4] In 1988, regarding his relations with his father he told Patrick Seale "we saw father at home but he was so busy that three days could go by without us exchanging a word with him. We never had breakfast or dinner together, and I don't remember ever having lunch together as a family, or maybe we only did once or twice when state affairs were involved. As a family, we used to spend a day or two in Lattakia in the summer, but then too he used to work in the office and we didn't get to see much of him."[12]

Since his last election victory in 1991, President Hafez Assad was publicly referred to as “Abu Basil” (Father of Bassel).[13] The Baath Party press in Syria long ago eulogised Bassel Assad as “the golden knight” due to his prowess in horsemanship.[14] He first emerged on the national scene in 1987, when he won several equestrian medals at a regional tournament.[4] He also had a reputation for his interest in fast cars.[11] It was said by officials in Damascus that Bassel Assad was uncorrupted and honest.[14] His friends and teachers describe Bassel as charismatic and commanding.[15]

He was being introduced to European and Arab leaders at that period, and he was a close friend of the children of King Hussein of Jordan. He had been also introduced to King Fahd and then Lebanese leaders of all sects.[14] Assad had a significant role in Lebanese affairs.


On January 21, 1994, driving his Mercedes at high speed through fog to Damascus International Airport for a flight to Germany in the early hours of the morning, al-Assad is said to have collided with a motorway roundabout without wearing a seatbelt, and he died instantly. It was reported that his cousin Hafez Makhlouf was with him and hospitalized with injuries after the accident. al-Assad's body was taken to al-Assad University Hospital.