Who is Rifaat al-Assad, who will be tried by Switzerland on charges of committing war crimes?

Former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, his deputy Abdel Halim Khaddam, and his brother Rifaat al-Assad

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Rifaat al-Assad’s case is complicated by his return to Syria in 2021, after decades of living in exile in Europe.

Switzerland said that it would try Rifaat al-Assad, the Syrian president’s uncle, on charges of “committing war crimes and crimes against humanity” following the events of what was known as the “Hama massacre” in the 1980s.

The Swiss public prosecutor said that Rifaat al-Assad “is accused of ordering murder, torture, cruel treatment and unlawful arrests in Syria in February 1982… within the framework of the armed conflict between the Syrian armed forces and the Islamic opposition” in the city of Hama during the era of President Hafez al-Assad.

He accuses him of “ordering, in his capacity as commander of the defense companies and commander of operations in Hama, the commission of murders, torture, cruel treatment, and illegal arrests.”

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