Gunmen kill brother of Syria's parliament speaker

BEIRUT Tue Nov 6, 2012 7:22pm IST

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Gunmen assassinated the brother of Syria's speaker of parliament on Tuesday, state television said, in the latest episode of a deadly campaign against people regarded as linked to President Bashar al-Assad.

Targets have included parliamentarians, ruling Baath party officials and their relatives. Even actors and doctors viewed as Assad supporters have been killed in a 19-month-old uprising that has cost more than 32,000 dead.

"Gunmen assassinated Mohammed Osama al-Laham, brother of the speaker of parliament, in Midan, Damascus," state television said, without giving details.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the killing.

Last month rebels killed the brother of Khalid Abboud, a member of parliament from the southern town of Deraa. The son of prominent lawmaker Mohammed Kheir al-Mashi was slain in northern Syria.

On Sunday, state news agency SANA reported that rebels had killed a Baath party official in the north. Rebels also said they had killed actor Mohammad Rafei in the Barzeh neighbourhood of Damascus after he was kidnapped on Friday.

Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition watchdog, said activists in Barzeh had said Rafei, known for his soap opera roles, had been killed because he backed Assad and gave information to the security forces about protesters and rebels.

"Almost every day there are such attacks and there will be many more in the next few days," said Abdelrahman, who has an extensive network of activist and rebel contacts in Syria. (Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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