Syrian actor killed by rebels, family says

BEIRUT -- Prominent Syrian-born Palestinian actor Mohammed Rafeh, who was believed to be a supporter of President Bashar Assad's regime, was kidnapped and then killed by anti-government gunmen, activists and his family said Sunday. He was 30.

Ahmad Rafeh, Mohammed's father and also a well-known actor, said the family received Mohammed's body Sunday.

"My son was killed in cold blood," Rafeh said by telephone from Damascus, adding that his son's body bore gunshot wounds to the head, neck and shoulder.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Rafeh was kidnapped Friday night in the Damascus neighborhood of Barzeh, which has been hit by fighting between rebels and government troops. The observatory said Rafeh was killed for apparently giving information to the regime about rebels and anti-government protesters.

Rafeh's death comes after a campaign began on social media calling for actors who support Assad to be punished.

A Facebook page titled "The black list of Syrian artists" had a picture of Rafeh. "The reason was not difference of opinion. Mohammed Rafeh was a commander of a shabiha group," the caption read referring to pro-government gunmen.

Rafeh had been in several Syrian TV series but became famous throughout the Arab world five years ago for his role in a program that depicted life in Damascus in the 1930s under French colonial rule.

Rafeh played the role of Ibrahim, the son of a wealthy textile merchant, who fights against French forces in defense of Syria.

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