Assad Supporter Killed by Gunmen in Southern Lebanon

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BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Unidentified men shot and killed a prominent Syrian commentator and staunch defender of the government of President Bashar al-Assad outside his home in southern Lebanon on Wednesday, local officials said.

The predawn attack that killed the commentator, Mohamed Dirrar Jammo, came one day after a roadside bomb struck a convoy near the Syrian border belonging to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group, which has sent fighters to help Mr. Assad's army battle rebels seeking his ouster.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the strong links between their targets and the Syrian government suggest that Syrian rebels or Lebanese militants who sympathize with them are targeting Mr. Assad's allies in Lebanon.

Along another Syrian border, a new round of fighting on Wednesday among Syrian rebels, extremist groups and Kurdish militias killed 11 fighters in Syria and at least one civilian in Turkey.

The clashes in the Syrian city of Ras al-Ain pitted Syrian rebels and Al Qaeda-linked extremists against Kurdish militias that have used the chaos of the civil war to push for greater autonomy.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict from Britain through a network of contacts on the ground, said the clashes began on Tuesday when extremist fighters attacked a Kurdish patrol.

On Wednesday, Kurdish fighters seized control of most of the town and the nearby border crossing with Turkey, the observatory said, adding that at least 11 combatants were killed, two of them Kurds.

The Turkish Army said in a statement that houses and a security office were hit by gunfire from across the border early Wednesday and that the army fired back.

Turkey's semiofficial Anatolia news agency said a 17-year-old boy was killed near the border by a stray bullet while walking home from school while another teenager was shot in the head while watching television and taken to a hospital.

The fighting underlined the increasingly complicated battle lines inside Syria and the mounting danger that the civil war there will spill into neighboring countries.

Syria and Lebanon share a complex web of political and sectarian links that are easily inflamed, and the civil war in Syria has led to a rise in political violence in Lebanon. Last week, a car bomb exploded in a southern suburb of Beirut that is a stronghold for Hezbollah.

Hussein Khalifeh, the mayor of Sarafand, where Mr. Jammo was killed, said he had returned to his home in a residential part of the town early Wednesday and was unloading fruits and vegetables from his car when the gunmen showed up.

Mr. Jammo, who often defended the Syrian government on Lebanese and Arab television stations, was married to a Lebanese woman and had lived in the town for more than 10 years, Mr. Khalifeh said.

As the civil war in Syria heated up, local officials warned Mr. Jammo to be careful about his high profile defending Mr. Assad's government. "But we never got any serious official warning," Mr. Khalifeh said.

A Lebanese military official confirmed the bomb attack on Tuesday, saying it struck a Hezbollah convoy that was headed to the Syrian capital, Damascus. Speaking on the condition of anonymity under military rules, he said that two people were wounded and that this was the third similar attack since the beginning of June.

Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting from Istanbul.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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