Who’s Who: Major General Aous Ali Aslan

Major General Aous Ali Aslan is a professional soldier that was once thought to be a viable successor to Bashar al-Assad.

In Brief

The son of the retired general Ali Aslan, who served as Chief of Staff in the Army and Armed Forces, Aous Aslan has a good weight inside the military institution. Aslan is a professional officer who has played a major role in fixing the regime of the Assad family. His name surfaced in the summer of 2017, when news was leaked that the Russians were preparing Aslan to succeed Bashar al-Assad in a deal with the American, a story that proved to be baseless.

Background

Major General Aous Aslan is the son of Ali Aslan who was a corner stone for the rule of Hafez al-Assad and played a vital role in transitioning the rule from Hafez to his son Bashar in 2000. Aslan the father was also a member of the Central Committee of the Ba’ath Party and a close confidant of the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad. He was regarded by outside observers as having significantly improved Syrian military readiness while operating under severe financial constraints.

Aous Aslan is close in age to Bashar al-Assad his late brother Bassel, who was killed in a car accident in 1994. Aous and Bashar have known each other since they were young men. However, Aous almost never appeared in the media or in the social circles of Damascus. Like his father, he preferred to keep a low profile and did not appear to have interests in politics.

The Syrian Revolution

In 2011, Aous Aslan was commander of the 40th Tank Brigade under the Fourth Division at the rank of brigadier general. His forces reportedly participated in the attacks against the two cities that showed resilience and resistance to the Assad regime in Damascus countryside: Mou’adamiya. Mou’adamiya, in particular, received the worst assault by the Fourth Division and Air Force Intelligence. Security forces surrounded the town and blockaded it for two weeks, and then invaded it using heavy military equipment and tanks. The operation resulted in the arrest of about 2,000 of the city’s residents. The city was then stormed another time in March 2013, and during this operation about 2,000 civilians were killed, including more than 60 women and 100 children. More than 3,000 people were wounded, including a large number who received permanent disabilities.

Aous Aslan bears responsibility (along with Major General Jamal Younes and Brigadier General Jawdat al-Safi and Maher al-Assad, who was leader of the 42nd Tank Corps) for the massacres committed at that time. A report by the Human Rights Watch organization published on 15/12/2011 under the title, “‘By All Means Necessary!’ Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria ,” reported the practices of the regime forces under Aslan’s command, who imposed a long siege on Mou’adamiya which led its residents to eat tree leaves and whatever else they could find, while his forces used snipers to shoot all those who tried to leave or enter. A massacre was also carried out in the city on 1/8/2012 which killed 86 people. They carried out another massacre in September 2012, in which about 80 people were killed, as well as what is known as the “Great Daraya Massacre ” in August 2012, which killed more than 700 people, including children, women, and entire families.

The Fourth Division’s men also had a major role in displacing and killing residents of the al-Qaboun district, which was surrounded and then invaded with heavy equipment in July 2011, with about 1,500 district residents arrested.

The same degree of violence was committed anew in another operation in 2012, where the neighborhood witnessed indiscriminate bombardment by the Fourth Division’s tanks, with the campaign lasting about five days and leading to the displacement of more than 80 percent of its people, the razing of a segment, as well as at least 100 deaths and the arrests of hundreds — all in addition to the theft, looting and the total destruction of the district’s industry and infrastructure.

The 40th Tank Brigade led by General Aslan reportedly committed more attacks in July 2012, when its fighters stormed the quarter of Nahr Aysha, in Southern Damascus, after shelling it with tank shells and heavy machine guns. The shelling killed and wounded a large number of district residents.

But this was not it, the 40th Tank Brigade under the command of Aous Aslan also layed a vital role in breaking into other major cities: Daraa, Banyas, and al-Zabadani, leaving thousands of casualties among civilians. Moreover, it took part in attacking Barzeh and Tishreen, two suburbs of Damascus, as well as cities such as Harasta and Saqba, and the suburbs of Qadisiya, al-Hema, and Wadi Barada, in Damascus countryside at the beginning of 2017.

As a result of his major role in these horrific violations against civilians, Major General Aous Aslan has been subject to American , European and British sanctions.

As a reward, the Assad regime has promoted Aslan to be deputy commander of the Fourth Division in 2015, to continue his operations in various areas in which the division’s units were deployed. At the end of 2016, he was then appointed commander of the Second Corps.

He enjoys major support from Russia. It was rumored that Bashar al-Assad wanted to remove him from the Corps command, but Russia ordered that he be returned immediately — all of which occurred in light of rumors that Russia was preparing Major General Aslan to succeed Bashar al-Assad.

Assad replacement?

In April 2017, a swift rumor stormed into the Syrian media and social media which said that Russia is preparing General Aous Aslan to be Assad replacement in an upcoming political solution.

The rumor spread quickly when a controversial opposition figure published on his Facebook page information he said he acquired about a Russian plan to choose Aous Aslan as the leader of the transition in Syria. The story added that the Russians officials have conveyed this option to their American counterparts.

The regime indirectly responded to this rumor by a Lebanese journalist who denied the story in pro-Assad Al-Deyar Newspaper, describing the story as a mere hoax, that wanted to creat a misunderstanding between Assad and his entourage. One thing is certain though. No transition started and no one replaced Assad.

 

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Syrian Observer.

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