General shot dead in Damascus

Sat, Feb 11, 2012, 00:00

Syria's state-run news agency says gunmen have assassinated an army general in the capital Damascus.

It's the first killing of a high military officer in the Syrian capital since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March.

The Sana news agency says three gunmen opened fire at Brig. Gen. Issa al-Khouli this morning as he left his home in the Damascus neighborhood of Rukn-Eddine.

Al-Khouli was a doctor and the chief of a military hospital in the capital. The attack indicates that violence in Syria is reaching the tightly controlled capital, which has been relatively quiet compared to other cities.

Assad's crackdown of the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people, according to UN figures.

Government forces killed at least seven civilians in an intensified tank and rocket bombardment on opposition districts in the Syrian city of Homs today to put down a popular revolt demanding his removal, activists said.

Mohammed Hassan, an opposition campaigner in the western city, told Reuters by telephone that a 55-year-old woman was among those killed by shellfire on the Bab Amro district.

The account could not be independently confirmed. Syria restricts access by most foreign journalists.

Footage on Youtube showed a doctor at a field hospital in Bab Amro next to the body of the woman, who appeared to have been hit in the head.

"This is Ibtissam al-Dalati, mother of three...Shrapnel hit her in the head," the doctor says, holding the woman's fractured and bloody head. "I call upon all Syrians to take to the streets to take the pressure off Homs."