The Syrian regime’s former military intelligence chief, Major-General Ali Duba, died on Wednesday at the age of 89.

Syrian websites reported that Duba, a feared member of former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad’s inner circle, passed away in the military hospital of the coastal Syrian city of Latakia.

Duba held the position of head of Syrian military intelligence between 1974 and 2000.

He was born in 1933 in the village of Qarfis, south of Latakia, to a small Alawite family and joined the Baath Party in 1950 and the army in 1955.

In 1970, he was appointed head of the Damascus branch of military intelligence and supported the coup which brought Hafez Al-Assad to power.

He became overall head of military intelligence four years later, succeeding Hikmat Shihabi. When Hafez al-Assad fell ill in 1983, Duba was appointed to an emergency committee running affairs of state.


Duba took part in the suppression of a Muslim Brotherhood led revolt in Hama in 1982, which led to the Hama massacre in which up to 30,000 people were killed by regime troops.

He was also a key ally of Hafez Al-Assad in his power struggle with his brother Rifaat, which led to Rifaat Al-Assad’s exile from Syria in 1984.

Syrian opposition websites reporting his death described him as “one of the most criminal of the regime’s men” during Hafez al-Assad’s rule.

He played a key role in the creation of the regime’s secret police apparatus and the climate of fear and repression which has prevailed in Syria ever since the Assad family came to power.


Duba is believed to have set up a series of detention centres, where torture and abuse are commonplace, during his time as military intelligence chief.

For his services to the Assad regime, he was put in charge of Syrian activities in Lebanon in 1985 and in 1993 was given the post of deputy chief of staff of the army.

However, when Hafez al-Assad died in 2000 and was succeeded by his son Bashar, Duba was forced into retirement.

He kept a low media profile throughout his career and was last seen in public in 2021, voting for Bashar al-Assad in presidential elections widely considered a “sham”.