Syrian journalist dies of wounds in Damascus shooting
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Syrian journalist dies of wounds in Damascus shooting

State media denies rebel claims that interior minister is dead

In this citizen journalist image, smoke billows over Damascus, Syria, in July (photo credit: AP)
In this citizen journalist image, smoke billows over Damascus, Syria, in July (photo credit: AP)

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian journalist for a pro-government television station died of wounds sustained in shooting attack in the suburbs of Damascus, the state media said Saturday, as rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad pressed on with an offensive to take the capital, the seat of his power.

Rebels have frequently targeted pro-government reporters as well as officials and state institutions such as ministries, in addition to attacks on military, intelligence and security facilities.

The state-run SANA agency said that Suheil al-Ali of Addounia TV died on Friday, four days after a “terrorist” fired on him as he was returning home from work. The Syrian state media refers to opposition fighters as “terrorists.”

Fighting has raged for weeks in neighborhoods and towns around Damascus that have been opposition strongholds since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011. The revolt started as peaceful protest but morphed into a civil war that has killed more than 60,000 people, according to the United Nations recent estimate.

Rebels have assassinated regime figures in the past, most dramatically in July when they detonated explosives inside one of the regime’s crisis meetings in Damascus, killing four officials including Assad’s brother-in-law and the defense minister. Massive bombings like the one that struck the Interior Ministry have been a trademark of Islamic radicals fighting alongside the Syrian rebels, raising concerns about the extremists’ role in the civil war.

Most recently, the country’s interior minister was injured in a suicide bombing that targeted his ministry in Damascus last month. After the Dec. 12 attack, al-Shaar was secretly brought to neighboring Lebanon for treatment of a back injury, but was rushed out of a Beirut hospital and back home Dec. 26 for fear of being arrested by Lebanese authorities.

On Saturday, SANA denied reports of al-Shaar’s death, saying that the minister is “in good health and recovering.”

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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