Dawoud Rajiha

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Dawoud Rajiha
Minister of Defense
In office
8 August 2011 – 18 July 2012
PresidentBashar al-Assad
Prime MinisterAdel Safar
Riyad Hijab
DeputyAssef Shawkat
Preceded byAli Habib Mahmud
Succeeded byFahd Jassem al-Freij
Chief of Army Staff
In office
3 June 2009 – 8 August 2011
PresidentBashar al-Assad
MinisterAli Habib Mahmud
Preceded byAli Habib Mahmud
Succeeded byFahd Jassem al-Freij
Personal details
Dawoud Abdallah Rajiha

Damascus, Syria
Died18 July 2012(2012-07-18) (aged 64–65)
Damascus, Syria
Political partySyrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Military service
Allegiance Syria
Branch/serviceSyrian Arab Army
Years of service1967–2012
RankSyria-Feriq Awal.jpg Colonel General
Unit3rd Armoured Division, Artillery
Battles/warsYom Kippur War
Islamic uprising in Syria
Syrian occupation of Lebanon
1982 Lebanon War
Gulf War
Syrian civil war

Dawoud Abdallah Rajiha (Arabic: داود راجحة‎‎; 1947 – 18 July 2012), forename sometimes transliterated Dawood or Daoud, surname sometimes transliterated Rajha, was the Syrian minister of defense from 2011 to July 2012 when he was assassinated along with other senior military officers by armed opposition forces during the country's Civil War. From 2009 to 2011, Rajiha served as chief of staff of the Syrian Army.

Early life[edit]

Rajiha, a Greek Orthodox Arab Christian, was born in Damascus in 1947.[1][2] A specialist in artillery, he graduated from Syria's military academy in 1967.[1]

Military education[edit]

Dawoud Abdallah Rajiha attended different courses and a higher military education:

  • Bachelor in Military Sciences, Field Artillery Officer, Syrian Military Academy
  • Staff Course
  • General Command and Staff Course
  • Higher Staff Course (War Course)


Rajiha attained the rank of major general in 1998 and was appointed as the Syrian Army's deputy chief of staff six years later, in 2004.[3] In 2005, he received a promotion to the rank of general called Imad (a rank in the Syrian armed forces between major general and lieutenant general).[4] When Ali Habib Mahmud was named to head the ministry of defense in 2009, Rajiha was given the position of army chief of staff.[4] He held this position in 2011, when the Syrian civil war began. On 8 August 2011, he was chosen by President Bashar al-Assad to replace Mahmud as minister of defense.[1][2]

Rumored death[edit]

On 20 May 2012, the Damascus council of the Free Syrian Army, among the rebel organizations opposed to the Assad government, alleged that it had assassinated Rajiha and the seven other members of the government's military crisis unit. It was since proven that the allegations were false and were rebels propaganda. Members of the unit, including former minister of defense Hasan Turkmani, were shown on Syrian television to be alive, and the rebels later stated that only Rajiha's deputy, General Assef Shawkat, and a second official who was not named. Shawkat, the brother-in-law of President Assad, was later shown to have survived, as well.[5][6][7] In June 2012, the matter of Rajiha's alleged death was permanently resolved when it was confirmed that he remained Assad's defense minister in the newly formed cabinet.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Rajiha was married and had four children.[3]

Assassination and funeral[edit]

Almost two months after the date of his alleged death, Rajiha was assassinated in 18 July 2012 Damascus bombing at the Syrian National Security Building at Rawda Square, Damascus. Among the others killed in the bombing were Hasan Turkmani and Assef Shawkat.[9][10][11] Fahd Jassem al-Freij was named by President Assad as Rajiha's successor as minister of defense, while it was announced that Addounia TV would broadcast the minister's funeral. A state funeral was held for him, Hasan Turkmani and Assef Shawkat in Damascus on 20 July 2012. A religious ceremony for him took place in the Holy Cross church in Damascus.[12] Bashar al-Assad did not participate in the ceremony and was represented by vice president Farouk al-Sharaa.[13] A military ceremony was also held for him and other two senior officials, Hassan Turkmani and Assef Shawkat, in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Mount Qasioun, overlooking Damascus.[13]


  1. ^ a b c "President al-Assad Issues Decree Naming Gen. Dawood Rajiha Defense Minister". SANA. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Syria's Assad replaces defense minister with army chief of staff". Ha'aretz. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Ex-Syrian DefMin Opposition to Hama crackdown led to firing – Sources". Asharq Alawsat. Damascus, London. 9 August 2011. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b "By All Means Necessary!" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. December 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Al Arabiya: Syrian officials acknowledge Assad's brother-in-law was killed four days ago". Times of Israel. AP. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Syria: Damascus clashes prompt claims of high-level assassinations". The Guardian. 20 May 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  7. ^ "High-ranking Syrian officials deny reports of their own assassinations". Al Arabiya. 20 May 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Syria's Assad forms new government, keeps top ministers". Haaretz. Reuters. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Syria defence minister killed in Damascus bomb". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Syria conflict: 'Suicide bomb' kills defence minister". BBC News. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Syria ministers 'killed in blast'". BBC. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Funeral procession of former defense minister in Damascus". Press TV. 20 July 2012. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Funeral held for Syria officials killed in bombing". Chicago Tribune. Reuters. 20 July 2012. Archived from the original on 9 October 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
Military offices
Preceded by
Ali Habib Mahmud
Deputy Chief of Staff of Army
Succeeded by
Assef Shawkat
Preceded by
Ali Habib Mahmud
Chief of Staff of Army
Succeeded by
Fahd Jassem al-Freij
Political offices
Preceded by
Ali Habib Mahmud
Minister of Defense
Succeeded by
Fahd Jassem al-Freij