Oct 15, 2014 4:26 AM

Syrian lawmaker assassinated in central province

The Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) A Syrian lawmaker was gunned down and killed in the restive central province of Hama, state media and officials said Wednesday in the latest assassination to target a figure linked to President Bashar Assad's government.

Gunmen opened fire at Waris al-Younnes' car as he was travelling on a road linking the city of Hama with the town of Salamiyeh, according to the state-run SANA news agency. He represented Hama province in the parliament in Damascus.

A Syrian official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, told The Associated Press that al-Younnes was killed on Tuesday night.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Several Syrian officials have been assassinated since Syria's crisis began in March 2011. The uprising that later turned into a civil war has killed more than 190,000 people, according to the U.N.

Syrian opposition forces have targeted government officials, army and police officers and civil servants in their campaign to topple Assad.

One of the most dramatic assassinations during the civil war so far was in July 2012, when a bomb at a high-level crisis meeting in Damascus killed four top officials, including Assad's brother-in-law and the defense minister.

Meanwhile, the main Western-backed opposition group the Syrian National Coalition wrapped up five days of meetings in Turkey late Tuesday. During the sessions, they re-elected opposition's interim Prime Minister Ahmed Touma to the post he has held since last year.

The Coalition has tried to organize governance in opposition-held territories in northern Syria but its interim government formed last year has been ineffective and beset by divisions. In Syria, meanwhile, opposition-held areas have descended into chaos and infighting, mostly between rebel factions and members of the Islamic State group that now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

The Coalition said Touma was elected from among three candidates for the post, and that all but two of the 65 members present at the sessions voted in his favor. He has a month to form a government in exile that would be presented for approval to the coalition's general assembly, the statement said.


Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed to this report from Beirut.


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