The Syrian regime’s stronghold of Latakia was rocked by protests on Saturday in response to the murder of a regime officer at the hands of one of Bashar al-Assad’s relatives, Suleiman Hilal al-Assad.
“We want the criminal to be punished and executed given he is a terrorist,” said the brother of Colonel Hassan a-Sheikh, the slain officer, in a radio interview published by the pro-opposition Syrian Journalism Center.
According to his account, after al-Sheikh didn’t let al-Assad pass in his car Thursday evening, the latter began cursing at him and then opened fire on him.
Around a thousand people gathered in a-Ziraa circle in Latakia city on Saturday to demonstrate against the killing. Some protestors carried signs reading, “The people want the execution of Suleiman.”
Many of the protestors hailed from a-Sheikh’s neighborhood of Bisnada in northern Latakia city and came in response to a call on a-Sheikh’s brother’s Facebook page.
Suleiman al-Assad, still at large, called the protesters “dogs,” in a post on Saturday to his personal Facebook, urging them to “keep howling,” adding that they would “get what’s coming” and that “everyone who has done me wrong will have their turn.”
Regime forces have increased security in many parts of Latakia province as the search for Suleiman intensifies, reported pro-regime Latakia Now, adding that he was wanted “dead or alive.”
Suleiman Hilal al-Assad is the son of Hilal al-Assad, former leader of the National Defense in Latakia province and a cousin to Bashar al-Assad. Hilal al-Assad was killed in March 2014.