12 Feb 2012

Military hospital boss shot in Syrian capital

1:16 pm on 12 February 2012

The head of a Syrian military hospital has been killed in the capital Damascus in an attack by armed terrorist groups, according to the state news agency.

Three men opened fire on Brigadier-General Isa al-Kholi as he left his home in the north of the city on Saturday morning, it said.

It is believed to be the first assassination of a senior officer in the capital since the uprising began in March last year, the BBC reports.

But the Damascus Revolution Command has issued a statement saying no activist group carried out the killing and believes the administration is responsible.

The Syrian state news agency, Sana, reported that Brigadier-General Kholi, director of Hamish military hospital and a specialist in orthopaedics, was shot dead outside his home in Rukn al-Din district.

Fresh violence in Homs

Activists in Syria say at least 35 people have been killed in fresh violence between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad in the city of Homs on Saturday.

The fatalities were reported in the Baba Amr district - a centre of anti-government protests - but residents said there had also been explosions and heavy gunfire in the neighbouring area of Inshaat.

After a week under shellfire and virtual siege, conditions in Homs are reported to be getting desperate, with basic supplies running low. Activists say more than 400 people have been killed since security forces launched an assault on opposition-held areas in Homs last Saturday.

Elsewhere, there are reports that the military has entered the town of Zabadani near the border with Lebanon after agreeing on a ceasefire with rebels. More than 100 people are believed to have been killed there in a week-long assault.

Human rights groups say more than 7000 have died nationwide since the uprising began. The government says at least 2000 members of the security forces have been killed combating "armed gangs and terrorists".

On Friday, state media said 28 people had been killed in two suicide car bomb attacks in the northern city of Aleppo.

UN to discuss Saudi resolution

The United Nations General Assembly is becoming the focus of attempts to apply pressure on Syria over violence against civilians.

Saudi Arabia is circulating a draft resolution among members similar to the one vetoed in the Security Council by China and Russia recently.

The draft calls for an end to violence by all parties and for President Bashar al Assad to step aside.

The General Assembly is to discuss Syria in the next few days.