19 May 2013

Father of Assad spokesman kidnapped in Syria

3:02 pm on 19 May 2013

Gunmen in Syria have abducted the elderly father of Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, one of the most powerful voices in the government.

The man was seized in the southern province of Daraa, government and opposition sources said.

The BBC reports that no group said they had carried out the abduction but rebels have targeted the families of officials in the past.

Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad reiterated that he would not resign, despite growing international pressure.

"To resign would be to flee," Mr Assad told Argentina's Clarin newspaper and news agency Telam.

In a separate development, a car bomb blast in Damascus killed three people and injured five.

Syria's state media blamed "terrorists" for the explosion, adding that experts were working at the scene to dismantle another explosive device.

Since the uprising against Mr Assad began just over two years ago, the UN estimates that at least 80,000 people have been killed and some 4.25 million people have been displaced from their homes.