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Syria opposition accuses government of Damascus 'assassination'

Cause of writer Munir Darwish's death remains unclear amid calls for independent investigation
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government 'tolerated' Munir Darwish's opposition group (AFP)

Syria's leading opposition body on Saturday blamed the government for the mysterious death of one of its members after a car accident in the capital Damascus. 

Munir Darwish, 80, was a writer and founder of a Cairo-based opposition group seen as "tolerated" by President Bashar al-Assad's government. 

He joined the mainstream Syrian Negotiations Committee (SNC) in November and continued to live in Damascus.

The SNC said Darwish was the victim of "a hit-and-run outside his home in Damascus, followed by a premeditated elimination [killing]" on Friday night.

In a statement, the SNC held the government responsible for what it described as an "intentional liquidation operation," Turkey’s YeniSafak website reported. The group called on the UN and human rights groups to hold a "transparent criminal investigation" into Darwish's death.

Opposition member Ahmed Ramadan told Anadolu Agency that Darwish was supposed to leave the hospital on Friday, but that was postponed until Saturday.

"Shortly after his family left the hospital, they were informed of his death," Ramadan said, according to YeniSafak. He called for an independent investigation into Darwish’s death and allowing a medical team to examine the body before burial.

The cause of Darwish's death remains unclear, Firas al-Khalidi, who heads the Cairo Platform, told AFP.

"Who has an interest in his assassination, except those who hate Syria - with the regime at the top of the list?" Khalidi told AFP.

"He clearly hinted that there were threats," Khalidi added.

Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with widespread protests against Assad but it has since morphed into a brutal and complex war.

Numerous rounds of UN-brokered peace negotiations held in Geneva have failed to end the war, which has left more than 340,000 people dead.

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