Syrian president allows exiled uncle to return to Syria, pro-government newspaper says

Damascus (Reuters) – Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad has allowed his exiled uncle Rifaat to return to Syria, pro-government Al Watan newspaper said on Friday, citing sources.

“Rifaat Al-Assad arrived in Damascus yesterday, in order to prevent his imprisonment in France after a court ruling was issued and after the confiscation of his property and money in Spain as well,” it added.

Reuters could not immediately verify the Al Watan report.

A former Syrian vice president who was sent into exile in the 1980s, Assad was living in France, where he was put under investigation for tax fraud and money-laundering.

He was handed a four year jail sentence earlier this year that he was unlikely to serve because of his age but the ruling cleared the way for all his property in France to be seized.

His properties in Spain were confiscated before that on the back of a money laundering investigation as well.

Rifaat al-Assad is widely held responsible for the suppression of an uprising in 1982 against then-president Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father. Many thousands were killed.

He left Syria after a failed coup against Hafez al-Assad in 1984.

The al-Watan report cited sources as saying that he would play no political or social role.