BEIRUT — A prominent Syrian political analyst known for his staunch support of the government of President Bashar Assad was shot and killed early Wednesday at his home in Lebanon, authorities said.
The commentator, Mohammad Darrar Jammo, 44, fell amid a hail of bullets in what officials suspect was a well-planned political assassination. The killing appears to be the latest example of violence from the war in neighboring Syria spilling over into Lebanon.
Assailants using automatic weapons shot Jammo at close range at 2:30 a.m. at his home in the coastal town of Sarafand, 35 miles south of Beirut, news reports said. Lebanon’s English-language Daily Star newspaper said Jammo was shot 30 times in his ground-floor sitting room, which was riddled with bullet holes.
Syria’s official news service blamed “armed terrorists,” which is how Damascus describes the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.
The assailants fled the scene, reports said, and Lebanese authorities were investigating.
Jammo was a frequent voice in Arab media defending Assad and predicting victory for his government, which for more than two years has been fighting an uprising backed by the United States and allied nations.
“We have enough power in Syria,” Jammo said in one recent interview. “We will win, inevitably. Let no one think otherwise.”
In Syria, rebel assassinations and executions of officials, journalists and others seen as sympathetic to the government occur regularly. The brazen killing of Jammo indicates that such attacks have crossed the border.
The Syrian civil war has deeply divided Lebanon, which is home to loyal supporters and fierce critics of Syria’s president. The Lebanese government has taken a neutral stance on the war, but various powerful factions within the country have lent support to the opposing sides.
Many Lebanese officials have voiced concern that instability in Syria could threaten Lebanon’s fragile, multi-sectarian democracy. Lebanon was roiled by a 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.
The Daily Star quoted Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel as denouncing the killing of Jammo as a “political crime.” “What is happening in terms of assassinations, bombing attacks and car bombs are the result of this boiling political atmosphere,” Charbel said.
In recent months, Lebanon has experienced an upsurge in political violence related to the crisis in Syria.
Last week, a car bomb injured more than 50 people in a south Beirut district affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanese group that is a close ally of Assad’s government. Hezbollah has also been targeted by roadside bombs and rockets.
Lebanon is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the violence in their homeland.
Bulos is a special correspondent