Last updated: 24 September, 2011

Senior Syrian general dies of heart attack

The Syrian army’s deputy chief of staff has died of a heart attack, the official SANA news agency said on Saturday as anti-regime protests continue to sweep the country.

“The high command of the Syrian armed forces announces the death on Friday at 4:30 pm (1330 GMT) of the army’s deputy chief of staff, General Bassam Najm Eddin Antakiali, who succumbed after suffering a heart attack,” it said.

“His burial will take place in the martyrs’ cemetery in Damascus.”

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine people were arrested by security forces on Saturday at Marqeb near the port of Banias, some of whom had been shot in the legs “while trying to flee.”

In the Homs area of central Syria on Friday, at least nine civilians were killed by security forces as the crackdown on dissent against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad continues, the Britain-based Observatory said.

The United Nations says the death toll from the crackdown since demonstrations broke out on March 15 has risen to more than 2,700.