Bashar al-Assad dinning with Jamil al-Sayyed, director of the General Security Department in Lebanon in 1998

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Jamil al-Sayyed was appointed director of the all-powerful General Security Department by President Emille Lahhoud in 1998. During this time, Assad was handling the "Lebanon File" entrusted to him by his father, President Hafez al-Assad. The Security Department acted as Syria's gate-keeper in Lebanon and worked closely with Hizbullah during the 1990s. Sayyed resigned from his post in April 2005 after the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri and was arrested on charges of having taken part in the killing. He was released after being declared not guilty in 2009 and remained one of Syria's staunchest allies in Lebanon.