Gunmen kill brother of Syria's parliament speaker in Damascus
In a rare, high-level contact between the Moscow government and a Syrian opposition figure, as Russia's FM meets defected Syrian PM Riad Hijab; fighting continues in Homs and Aleppo.
Gunmen shot and killed the brother of Syria's parliament speaker as he drove to work in the capital Damascus on Tuesday, the state-run news agency reported on Tuesday.
Mohammed Osama Laham, brother of Parliament Speaker Jihad Laham, was killed in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan, the SANA news agency said.
It was the latest in a wave of assassinations targeting Syrian officials, army officers and other prominent supporters of President Bashar Assad's regime. Four of the president's top security aides were killed in a rebel bombing of state security headquarters in Damascus on July 18.
The killing came a day after some of the most intense fighting in Damascus in months as rebels wage a civil war to unseat Assad.
In another blow to the regime, Turkey's state-run news agency reported that seven Syrian generals defected to Turkey. The Anadolu Agency said they arrived in the Turkish border province of Hatay seeking refuge. Their identities and ranks were not disclosed.
The agency said they were taken to a refugee camp in Hatay that shelters defected soldiers under tight security. They join dozens of other generals who have abandoned the regime. More than 110,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey since the uprising began in March last year.
In Jordan, which also borders Syria, visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Riad Hijab, the former Syrian prime minister who defected to Jordan in August. It was a rare, high-level contact between the Moscow government and a Syrian opposition figure. Russia is one of the strongest international supporters of Assad's regime.
Lavrov said his talks with Hijab in Amman were meant to get firsthand information from the Syrian opposition on how they view a solution to the civil war.
"The idea of the meeting was to get an agreement or a roadmap on how to deal with opposition forces and save the Syrian people," Lavrov told reporters.
He voiced continued support for Assad's regime, warning that the alternative would dip Syria into further chaos.
Activists and state media reported clashes, shelling and air raids in different parts of Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air raids on Houla, a group of villages in central province of Homs, killed seven people. The group also reported air raids on the Damascus suburbs of Douma and Maadamiyeh saying there are casualties without giving numbers.
SANA said six regime supporters were killed when 11 mortars rounds fell near a pro-government demonstration Monday night in the northern city of Aleppo.
The Observatory said Syrian troops shelled two villages on the edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights adding that government forces have been trying to take over the area for days.
On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces said a bullet from Syria struck one of its vehicles traveling on the Israeli side of the cease-fire line in the Golan Heights. No one was wounded in the incident. The Israel-Syria border has been quiet since a 1974 armistice agreement. Such incidents have been rare.
Israel is concerned that violence from Syria's civil war could spill into the country. Earlier this week, three Syrian tanks entered a demilitarized zone between the countries. Several Syrian shells, apparently misfired, have exploded inside Israel.