BEIRUT, Lebanon — A sniper assassinated a senior Syrian general close to President Bashar Assad, according to reports Monday in a Saudi paper and Web sites for a Syrian opposition figure and a reform-minded member of Syria's ruling party.
A sniper on a yacht killed Brig. Gen. Mohammed Suleiman at a beach resort in the northern port city of Tartous, said the Web site of an exiled Syrian dissident, Abdul-Halim Khaddam. The site said the general handled intelligence files and was a close Assad associate.
Another Web site, run by a reform-minded member of Assad's ruling Baath Party, Ayman Abdul-Nour, said the senior officer was shot Friday night. The site said Suleiman was shot to death at his beach house.
There was no confirmation by officials in Syria, which restricts its media and rarely comments on security matters.
The pan Arab Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat daily _ which is on the stands in most Arab Mideast countries but not in Syria _ quoted unnamed Syrian sources as saying Suleiman was shot and that he was Assad's "right hand" man and top security adviser.
The paper said in a front-page report Monday that Suleiman was shot by a sniper with four bullets that came from direction of the sea. Asharq al-Awsat is criticial of Assad's government and Syrian-Saudi relations have been cold for nearly two years.
The Jordan-based news Web site Al-Bawaba, said he served as Syria's "liaison officer" with the Lebanese militant Hezbollah movement.
Assassinations are rare in Syria and Suleiman's killing would be the first since Hezbollah military commander Imad Moughniyah was assassinated by a car bomb in Damascus in February. The Lebanese militant group accused Israel in that assassination, but the results of the Syrian investigation have not been disclosed.
A funeral service was held on Sunday in Suleiman's home-town of Driekesh a few miles away from Tartous, according to the Web sites reports.