DAMASCUS – An adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says parliamentary elections could be held in the country by the end of the year, according to Russian media, quoted by CNN. Bouthaina Shaaban, the political and media adviser to al-Assad, was in Moscow on Monday to speak to journalists on the situation in Syria. “I can tentatively say that such elections may be held either at the end of this year or the beginning of next,” Shaaban said, according to the RIA-Novosti news agency.
But the number of people killed in unrest in Syria since mid-March has reached at least 2,600, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Monday. The U.S. State Department is condemning the killing of a key Syrian opposition organizer who it says died while in the custody of Syria’s security forces. Ghiyath Mattar, described as a key organizer of protests against al-Assad’s regime, was killed after being arrested last Tuesday in the Damascus suburb of Darya, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement released Sunday.