President Hafez al-Assad and Vice-President Rifaat al-Assad in Damascus in 1984

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Rifaat al-Assad was the President's younger brother who tried to stage a coup to oust him in mid-1984. Before banishing him into exile, Assad relieved him of his duties as commander of the Speical Forces, a special unit in the Syrian Army, and appointed him ceremonial Vice-President. He was then sent to Moscow, after which he headed to Europe where he spent a life in exile, returning briefly to Syria in the late 1990s.