10/11/2011 12:07 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2011

At Home With The Assads

It is evening, and in a large house in a leafy, upmarket district of Damascus, a trio of siblings have gathered in the home of their mother, Anisa Makhlouf al-Assad, the reclusive former first lady of Syria. Along with her son Bashar, the country's current president, his younger brother Maher, commander of the brutal Fourth Division, and their formidable older sister, Bushra, she pores over the latest reports from officials across the country, as Bushra's husband, Asef Shawkat, the president's chief of staff and former military intelligence chief, looks on.

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