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Abu Dhabi: Mohammed Makhlouf, father of Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, died of coronavirus in Damascus, local media reported on Saturday.

Mohammad Makhlouf, who is also Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's uncle, rose to prominence in Syria when Hafez Al Assad became president after a military coup in 1970.

He was made director of the tobacco monopoly, a move that was not devoid of symbolism. The Alawites of the mountains, where the Makhloufs came from, were tobacco growers.

As his son would decades later, Mohammed grew to control the Syrian economy behind the scenes, sponsoring major economic deals in the oil sector in the 1980s.