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Outspoken Assad supporter assassinated, dies in hail of bullets

July 17, 2013|By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos
  • Fatima, the daughter of slain Syrian political analyst Mohammad Darrar Jammo, grieves in the comfort of a relative.
Fatima, the daughter of slain Syrian political analyst Mohammad Darrar… (Mohammad Zaatari / Associated…)

BEIRUT -- A prominent Syrian political analyst known for his staunch support of the government of President Bashar Assad was shot and killed early Wednesday at his home south of the Lebanese capital, authorities said.

The commentator, Mohammad Darrar Jammo, 44, fell amid a hail of bullets in what officials suspect was a well-planned political assassination.

The killing appeared to be the latest example of violence from the war raging in neighboring Syria spilling over into Lebanon.

Assailants using automatic weapons shot Jammo at close range at 2:30 a.m. at his home in the coastal town of Sarafand, 35 miles south of Beirut, according to local media accounts.

Lebanon’s English-language Daily Star newspaper reported that Jammo was shot 30 times in his ground-floor sitting room, which was riddled with bullet holes.

Syria’s official news service blamed the slaying on “armed terrorists,” Damascus’ routine description of rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.

The assailants fled the scene, reports said, and Lebanese authorities were investigating.

In Arab media, Jammo was a frequent voice defending Assad, whose government is fighting a more than two-year uprising backed by the United States and allied nations.

The war in Syria has deeply divided Lebanon, which is home to loyal supporters and fierce critics of the Syrian president. The Lebanese government has taken a neutral stance on the Syrian civil war, but various powerful factions within the country have lent support to the opposing sides on the ground in Syria.

Many Lebanese officials have voiced concern that instability from Syria could threaten Lebanon’s fragile, multi-sectarian democracy. Lebanon’s own 15-year civil war ended in 1990.

The Daily Star quoted Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel as denouncing the attack as a “political crime,” and declaring, “What is happening in terms of assassinations, bombing attacks and car bombs are the result of this boiling political atmosphere.”

In recent months, Lebanon has experienced an upsurge in political violence related to the crisis in Syria.

Last week, a car bomb injured more than 50 people in a southern Beirut district affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese group that is a close ally of Assad’s government. Roadside bombs and rockets have also targeted Hezbollah, a major political and paramilitary force in Lebanon.

Lebanon is also home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the violence in their homeland.

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Bulos is a speical correspondent.

patrick.mcdonnell@latimes.com

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