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Son of Syria's Grand Mufti Killed by Gunmen

The son of Syria’s Grand Mufti killed by armed gunmen near Idleb. Reports say the country is headed toward civil war.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/3/2011, 8:07 AM

Syrian soldiers mutiny and welcome protesters
Syrian soldiers mutiny and welcome protesters
ShamsSNN screenshot

The son of Syria’s Grand Mufti was killed by armed gunmen on Sunday, the state news agency SANA reported.

The report said that “an armed terrorist group” killed Saria Hassoun, son of the Grand Mufti of Badreddin Hassoun, along with a Professor of History at Aleppo University, Dr. Mohammad al-Omar, who was on his way to the university.

According to the report, Hassoun was injured in the attack and succumbed to his injuries after being admitted to Idleb National Hospital.

A source at Idleb Police Command told SANA that gunmen set up an ambush for Dr. al-Omar’s car near Ebla University on the Idleb-Aleppo highway and opened fire at it.

The two deaths come after a nuclear engineer was killed in the city of Homs last Wednesday. Two other professors were killed in the same city a day earlier.

A local human rights group accused the Syrian authorities of carrying out the killings, saying they “killed scientific personalities in Homs, trying to repeat the scenario of assassinations” perpetrated in Syria in the 1980s.

Because of the conflicting reports, it is impossible to determine who is exactly responsible for the deaths, but the Al-Arabiya network noted on Sunday that after more than six months of what it termed "peaceful demonstrations" against the rule of President Bashar Assad, Syria appears to be going down the path of civil war.

Dozens of Assad’s forces, who have been violently cracking down on protesters, have defected and joined the protesters, taking refuge in Homs and launching an armed campaign against the regime’s troops.

The dissident army’s leader said last week that “it is the beginning of an armed rebellion” against Assad and that “'you cannot remove this regime except by force and bloodshed.”

Al-Arabiya noted that the city of Rastan has seen one of the toughest fights between government forces and armed dissidents. On Saturday, Syrian soldiers took control of the city from deserters and gunmen, activists told the network.