Red Crescent chief shot dead as Assad blames ‘terrorists’ for protests

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The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Idlib has been shot dead, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

Activists reported deadly clashes elsewhere between government forces and army defectors.

Abdulrazak Jbero was on his way by from Damascus to Idlib when he was shot, said Hicham Hassan, an ICRC spokesman. Officials were still gathering details of his death, including whether he was riding in a Red Crescent vehicle.

Syria’s state-run media blamed “terrorists” for the killing.

President Bashar Assad’s regime claims terrorists working on behalf of a Western conspiracy are behind the country’s 10-month-old uprising, not protesters seeking an end to the corrupt and dynastic government that has seen his family rule for 40 years.

Meanwhile his forces clashed with army defectors and stormed civilian districts in central Syria, firing mortars and deploying snipers in violence that killed at least seven people, including a mother and her five-year-old child.

Pressure on Syria to end 10 months of bloodshed has so far produced few results. Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia have pulled out of the Arab League’s observers mission, asking the UN Security Council to intervene.

While Syria has allowed the observers to stay for another month, it has signalled that it will not change its tactics.