Gunmen abduct father of Syria deputy foreign minister: Watchdog
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Syrian deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal Muqdad answers to AFP journalists' questions during an interview on May 9 in the Syrian capital Damascus. AFP photoGunmen abducted the elderly father of Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad on May 18, apparently in reprisal for the arrest of one of their relatives, according to a government source and a watchdog.
"Today armed men abducted Mr Muqdad's father from his home in the village of Ghossom," in the southern province of Daraa, the government source said on condition of anonymity "They beat him up in front of his family then took him to Daraa city," said the source, adding that he is 84 years old.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the abduction, which was first reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said Muqdad's father was seized from his home in the village of Ghossom in the southern province of Daraa - cradle of the insurgency against the central government and scene of deadly battles between government forces and armed rebels.
"His abduction is in reprisal for the arrest by regime forces of relatives of one of the armed men," he said. The Britain-based Abdel Rahman was unable to say when the abduction took place, but he added that negotiations were underway to free Muqdad's father.
Muqdad is considered as the most powerful voice of the embattled Syrian regime which has launched a deadly crackdown on rebels determined to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
The conflict, which erupted as a peaceful uprising, has claimed more than 94,000 lives since it started in March 2011, according to the Observatory which relies on a broad network of activists, doctors and lawyers for its reports.