Syria frees horse rider who rivalled Assad brother

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows some of the inmates being readied for release from the Damascus Central Prison on June 11, 2014Syria has freed after 21 years in jail an ex-horse rider known to have been an equestrian rival of one of President Bashar al-Assad’s late brothers, reports said Sunday. The release of Adnan Qassar is part of a wide-reaching amnesty that Assad decreed last week, and has seen some 1,500 people freed from the war-ravaged country’s prisons, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “In 1993, Adnan Qassar was one of the top horse riders in Syria and the Arab world. He won a horse race against Bassel al-Assad,” who at the time was being groomed for the presidency, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

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