Websites affiliated with Syrian opposition gropus reported on Tuesday that General Ali Habib was found dead in his home a day after he was dismissed as defense minister. On Monday, Syrian President Bashar Assad appointed army chief Dawood Rajha to replace Habib.
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The SANA news agency reported Monday that Habib had been suffering from a deterioration in his health.
The report of his death has yet to be confirmed by any major Arab news outlet.
Since word of his ouster became public, many rumors surrounding the issue have surfaced. London-based daily al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Habib was replaced due to his objection to allow military forces into Hama, which has suffered brutal army attacks in the past week.
Syrian President Assad (R) and Gen. Ali Habib (Reuters)
Opposition websites also quoted Syria TV reports allegedly suggesting that Habib had died a natural death.
The report comes amid global reproach directed against Syria, with envoys from Turkey, India, Brazil and South Africa heading to Damascus to press for an end to the violent crackdown on a five-month-old uprising.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain all announced they were recalling their ambassadors from Damascus.
In Washington, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner lauded Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's visit to Syria and said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had spoken to him.
"They did talk about the situation in Syria, you know, and we believe it's another opportunity to send yet another strong message to Assad that this crackdown on peaceful protesters cannot stand," Toner said Monday.
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