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Father and Son: two Frenchmen tortured to death by Assad regime

Special Reports | 2018-09-11 03:10:49
Father and Son: two Frenchmen tortured to death by Assad regime


A relative of one of the two Syrian-French torture victims, Mazen Dabbagh, the pedagogical counselor of the French School of Damascus, and his son Patrick Abdelkader, revealed some episodes of the tragedy of those victims with the torturers of the regime.  The tragedy did not include only their elimination inside the prison, but also the seizure of the Dabbagh family house by one of the most savage officers of the regime.

Dr Hanan Dabbagh gave our newspaper Zaman al-Wasl exclusive information about the circumstances of the detention of the father who was an icon in the academic field in Syria, and his young son (he was a student of psychology in his second year at the University of Damascus), who was taken to prison and tortured before him.

Dr Dabbagh said that the victim and his son are French citizens, since the mother of the late Mazen is French (called Christiane Martel), whereas Dr Salah Dabbagh, who occupied important government positions in Syria in addition to his work in the Arab  League . Those parents ensured the education of 5 sons who are all successful in their scientific fields, the youngest is Dr Mazen born in 1959.


Dabbagh went on telling how the Air Force Intelligence arrested the young Patrick at the beginning, pretending that they found in his mobile a call with a young man living in Ghouta area in Damascus. The following day, the members of the Air Force Intelligence arrived and took the father to their most dangerous prison in Mezze Airport, pretending they wanted to tell him “two words”.

Dabbagh revealed that Mazen died before his son, on the contrary of what confirmed the regime in the formal “death” documents handed to the family of the two victims, saying that Mazen was probably unable to watch his young son tortured by ruthless creatures.


During the period of their detention till the news of his death (which lasted 5 years between the autumn of 2013 and the summer of 2018), the agents of the regime tried to blackmail the family of the victims and play with their nerves, for example one of them requested the sum of 30,000 dollars in order to inform them about the fate of Mazen and his son.

The regime did not only made this, but crossed the frontiers to France where his relatives live, defying even the French authorities. One Sunday a broker of the regime contacted the brother of Dr Mazen and informed him that there is an officer of the regime in Paris, and that this officer could release Dr Mazen and his son on a condition they pay him the sum of 60,000 Euros.


But the family of the victims informed the French authorities who made an investigation with the broker, and added his deposition to the “Mazen and Patrick File”, a file adopted by the International Federation for Human Rights.

Dr Dabbagh said that the tragedy of her relatives and their family did not stop in this stage. After the Intelligence of the regime killed those two Syrian-French citizens, in the Air Force Section, presided by the Brigadier General Abdessalam Mahmoud, this Intelligence took over two stories of the Dabbagh family building, situated in the most famous street in Mezze, near the house of the Prime Minister.


 The episodes of the crimes committed by the regime did not stop here. The Brigadier General Abdessalam Mahmoud himself lived in the seized house. Luckily, the two other stories of the Family Dabbagh building (constituted of 4 stories) escaped from seizure, because they were occupied by the Cyprus Embassy.

Dr Dabbagh told the details of the expulsion of the victim’s wife and her daughter from their house in the summer of 2016, and how the Intelligence agents arrived with a formal document they pinned up on the door of the house. They ordered those poor women to leave it immediately without even giving them the occasion to take with them many of their personal objects.

Later on, it was discovered that the thief of the house and its inhabitant was Abdessalam Mahmoud, the first suspect of having killed Dr Mazen and his young son, since they were arrested and tortured by his men and subordinates.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Reconciliation under Ali Haider completed the scene, trying to appear to be cooperative and careful about the life of the prominent academician and his young son.

Dr Dabbagh said that she contacted many times the Ministry of Reconciliation, once through a letter she wrote with her hands and sent by fax, hoping to hear even a simple piece of news about the fate of Mazen and his son, but the answer of the ministry was full of rosy promises. Those fake promises, which were and still are among the regime’s manner of distributing the rules and hiding death in its prisons.

The letter, from which Zaman al-Wasl keeps a complete copy, was written by Dabbagh in fall 2017, before the regime revealed officially the murder of Mazen and his son. During the previous years, the family waited any news or initiative that might come from the regime through its media. One day, Ali Hayder appeared on the screen of the regime giving a speech full of grandiloquent words. During the interview they showed a phone number to contact the Ministry of Reconciliation by fax. Dr Dabbagh tried, liked everyone who has a dear person jailed, to follow this thread even though it was very thin.

Dabbagh talked with pain about the situation of the French lady Christian Martel who is older than her, and how she asked eagerly about her son Mazen and grandson Patrick, without knowing anything about their tragic fate (nobody dares to tell her out of fear for her). She was a woman who loved Syria and its people very much, lived in Damascus for almost 40 years and had a very positive relationship with the people who surrounded her. She used to repeat always words showing her desire to spend the rest of her life in the country, because its people are very kind, proud and warm. She even desired to be buried in the soil of Syria.


But the choice of crazy war, imposed by Bashar on Syria, made the rest of her children take her out from Syria almost one year before the detention of their youngest brother and his son, fearing for her from what happened. As for Mazen, he insisted to remain there even after the departure of his mother, in a behavior that can only be 

explained by his excessive love of al-sham.

Here Dabbagh remembers a very painful paradox: the regime, with its corruption, violence and crimes, accuses those who escape from Syria of being traitors, unfaithful and lacking patriotism. Meanwhile at the same time persecutes, suffocates and kills those who love Syria, among them Mazen that only few people know how much he loves his country.

Dabbagh explains what she means saying that Mazen – unlike his brothers- did not want to follow his university studies (after baccalaureate) in France, in spite of the insistence of his mother and her repeated attempts. Each time she sent him to Paris, he used to come back quickly to Damascus, like a bird preferring his nest. This was a distinctive trait in the personality of the victim, but unfortunately he paid a very expensive bill because of a regime who do not recognize feelings, values, or morality and does not care about anything related to humanity.

Dabbagh indicated some hidden traits in the personality of late Mazen, like his simplicity which reaches sometimes austerity, which aroused many questions around him, especially for someone like him who had enough money to live a luxurious life.

She said that some secrets of this austerity were revealed accidently. He turned out to be altruistic and philanthropist. One day, Dr Dabbagh met a person who informed her about what Mazen made for him; he adopted him since he was a child and took care of him till he became an adult. He even took charge of his marriage expenses.

In addition to his love for good acts, Mazen was a proud man, and never kept silence when there is injustice. Thus his views and comments about what happened in Syria and about the crimes of the regime were not clear for those who were with him in the French School in Damascus, such as the teachers, the employees and the students. The students were shocked when they heard about his assassination under torture. They were amazed when they read the obituary of a person who contributed in making their future so that they attained high positions (among the students of Mazen there are ones who work in the French diplomatic corps now.)

Dr Dabbagh said that the news about her relatives (Mazen and Patrick) stopped nearly totally since their detention in fall 2013. The only news about Mazen was a testimony of someone who was detained with him and who was released, in which he said that the prominent academician shouted requesting to be liberated from the cell full of detainees. It was hard to breathe in the cells, so what about a man who is sixty and suffered from hypertension and who found himself among killers?

Finally Dabbagh praised the efforts of the French authorities and their seriousness in following the dossier of the two victims, and the continuous investigation to find the criminals and pursue them, in collaboration with the relevant organizations, especially the International Federation for Human rights.

Who was he?

The testimony given by Dr Hanan Dabbagh to our newspaper shed lights on the crimes of Bashar Assad regime, especially the Air Force Intelligence, and mainly the Brigadier General Abdessalam Mahmoud who was directly involved in the detention and torture of the Syrian-French citizens Mazen Dabbagh and his son Patrick Abdelkader Dabbagh (The name of Patrick Abdelkader is a compound name.)

So who is Abdessalam Mahmoud?

The Brigadier General Abdessalam Mahmoud is considered as one of the most important intelligence officers on which Bashar rely to fix his authority by way of torture and killing. Mahmoud used to do that, and even exaggerated in doing it, first through his position as chief of Air Force Intelligence section  (whose headquarters are in Mezze Airport), and second through his full powers which are even bigger than his position and which allow him to play with the fates and lives of people and their money.

Zaman al-Wasl previously published exclusively the data of Mahmoud, specifying that his full name is Abdessalam Mahmoud Ben Fajr Oushaheznan, born in 1959 in Fou’a (in Rif Idlib).

An official database in the possession of our newspaper reveals that the family name Mahmoud is “The law Brigadier General” which proves that this criminal involved in the infringement of the rights of thousands of Syrian people is holder of a “Law” diploma.

The name of Abdessalam Mahmoud was added in the list of previous sanctions published by the European Union and another list  published by the United Kingdom as the chief of Damascus Air Force Intelligence section, situated in the area of Bab Tuma.

In the autumn of 2016, during a meeting of the Security Council, the representative of Washington cited the names of 8 prominent officers of the regime, saying “they are war criminals who will get the same fate as their disreputable predecessors”. Among those, there was the Brigadier General Abdessalam Mahmoud.

Under the command of Mahmoud and according to his orders, a great number of Syrians were detained and tortured, among them the victims of Sidon Slaughter  (April 2011), in which hundreds were arrested and killed, including the child Hamza Alkhatib whose corpse was delivered to his family after having killed him under torture.




The day of the slaughter of “Sidon Houses” Mahmoud  presided the investigation section in the Air Force Intelligence, the section to which 160 detainees were taken from a pacifist demonstration that aimed to break the siege of the city of Dar’a at that time. Among the detainees, there were children including Hamza Alkhatib, who had been seen slightly injured , but the agents and officers of Mahmoud tortured him savagely, then handed him to his family as a disfigured corpse.

The hierarchy of the investigation section presided by Mahmoud reveals the name of the main officers who run this horrible section, at their forefront there is the assistant of the section chief; the Brigadier General Nazih Melhem , then the Brigadier General Salem Daguestani, chief of the security investigation section, then the Majors Souhail Zammam and Tarek Souleiman and the Captain Bassem Ali . All those belong to the same confession, except Mahmoud the Shiite, and Daguestani who is considered as Sunni. (For more details see: )


Within the context of her search for additional information about this dangerous criminal, our newspaper was able to reach an important source in this respect who previously met the Brigadier General Abdessalam Mahmoud in his office in the Mezze Airport, face- to- face during almost two hours.



The orders of Mahmoud then were that our source would be in front of him personally because of the importance of investigating with him. It was what happened, and the man was taken to the office of the Brigadier General, where he found a white, tall man (around 185), with white intensive hair combed from right to left.

Our source underlined that Mahmoud, whose photo is difficult to find, had a face resembling very much the Syrian actor Khalil Haddad who died two years ago. This is about the appearance, as for the substance, the face of Mahmoud was full of hatred and mischief expressions in addition to anger.

The private source said that Mahmoud tried, during all the session of investigation with him, to show calm, but as soon as he left his office he heard him insulting his officers and cursing  in a very vulgar way, because Mahmoud, who considered himself as a high-achieving investigator, could not extract any useless information during that session from the source about the matter for which he summoned him.

The source said that Mahmoud, like many of Assad’s Intelligence officers, does not have the intelligence or experience that we virtually find in an investigator, so what if he was an investigation section chief. And Mahmoud, like any other intelligence officer is only a man who uses fear, torture and threatening which he can fulfill imperturbably, since he is protected against any kind of questioning, thanks to the policy of fait accompli imposed by the regime of Assad since decades, but also thanks to the laws promulgated by the regime and fitted to protect him as well as his criminals.

The source revealed the greed of Mahmoud and his continuous endeavour to steal the houses of Syrians, such as his expropriation of the house of a displaced person, located in one of the richest Syrian areas. A house whose value is estimated to be hundreds of millions (N.B.: The house mentioned here is another house then that of Dabbagh family.)

As soon as he expropriated this house, Mahmoud propagated fear in the building and among its inhabitants. He imposed his laws, for example he forbade anyone to go out from his house when he does it, and he prohibited the use of the lift when he used it. He also totally prohibited to ring at his door or even to get closer to it…otherwise…

Zaman Al Wasl- Ethar Abdul Haq
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