Syria rebels kill brother of Parliamentary Speaker

Bashar al-Assad

Meanwhile, David Cameron says he would give Assad free passage out of Syria if it would end the bloodshed

LAST UPDATED AT 14:51 ON Tue 6 Nov 2012

THE assassination in Damascus today of Mohammad Osama al-Laham, the brother of the Speaker of the Syrian Parliament, was carried out by rebels who are targeting people who have the skills to help the war-torn country, according to Syria's state news agency.

The New York Times reports that Laham was attacked by gunmen while he drove his car through the Midan neighbourhood, an area of the capital that has seen huge protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian government mouthpiece SANA blamed the attack - which took place against the backdrop of clashes across the country which reportedly saw 152 people die on Monday - on rebels. It accused them of seeking to wipe out members of the regime with skills needed to help the country.

Laham was a doctor of agriculture and his death follows the weekend killing of Mohamed Rafeh, a television star who was a strong supporter of government measures to target the opposition led by the Free Syria Army.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is visiting the Middle East on a trade mission to sell Eurofighters to Gulf states, told al-Arabiya TV that he supports giving President Bashar al-Assad safe passage out of Syria if it means that the bloodshed would come to an end.

The Guardian reported that Cameron was asked what he would say if Assad demanded free passage from Syria. "Done. Anything, anything to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria," Cameron replied.

"Of course, I would favour him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he's done. I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain but if wants to leave, he could leave, that could be arranged."

The PM's remarks have caused consternation in some quarters, with Amnesty International saying: "Instead of talking about immunity deals for President Assad, David Cameron should be supporting efforts to ensure that he faces justice.

"The thousands of Syrians who have lost relatives are entitled to and deserve credible justice, and President Assad and his commanders must be held to account for their brutal actions." · 

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