Beirut: Gunmen on Saturday abducted the elderly father of Syria`s deputy foreign minister, the official`s office said, in the latest kidnapping targeting family members of figures in President Bashar Assad`s regime.
The father of Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad was seized today in the village of Ghossom in the southern province of Daraa, Mekdad`s office said. An official in the office said the man is in his 80s, but he did not know his name.
The abduction was also reported by Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV, which has several reporters in Syria and is seen as sympathetic to the regime.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but armed opposition groups in Syria have targeted senior regime officials or members of their families in the past for kidnapping or assassination in the past.
Last year, rebels carried out one of the highest-profile attacks against regime officials to date, detonating a bomb inside a high-level crisis meeting that killed four advisers of Assad, including the defence minister and the president`s brother-in-law.
The uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011 and escalated into a civil war that has left tens of thousands dead and several million displaced.
Lack of unity among rebel fighters has characterised the armed conflict from the start, and there were new signs today that infighting is on the rise.
Activists today reported a wave of mutual kidnappings between rival Islamic militant groups in the northern city of Aleppo after clashes killed at least four rebel fighters.
The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said a coalition of rebel groups known as the Judicial Council had accused another armed opposition faction, the Ghurabaa al-Sham, of plundering factories in Aleppo`s industrial neighbourhood. Aleppo, Syria`s largest city and a former commercial center, is split between rebel and government control.
Any internal fighting between rebels in the city would play into the hands of the regime, which is trying to tarnish the image of the opposition by saying it is dominated by extremists linked to al-Qaeda network.