(NY Daily News) Online reports of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s death appeared greatly exaggerated Sunday.
Arab media said Assad was purportedly shot by one of his Iranian bodyguards Saturday night and was in serious condition.
He was supposedly taken to Al-Shami Hospital in Damascus, where surrounding roads were closed off.
Israel News One’s website even reported that Assad had been “assassinated.”
But online updates said the Syrian leader’s shooting was false and that he was alive and in high spirits. The conflicting reports highlight the chaos that continues to engulf the country, which has been mired in a bloody civil war for two years.
Syrians chant slogans while holding Syrian opposition flags during a protest marking two years since the start of the uprising in 2011. The resignation of the opposition leader’s most prominent figure adds to disarray.
In the latest turn of events Sunday, the leader of the Western-backed Syrian opposition coalition announced he was stepping down.
Moaz al-Khatib didn’t detail what motivated his decision, according to a statement on Facebook.
But he said he now has the ability to “work with freedom that cannot be available within the official institutions.”
Al-Khatib also said the international community has failed to adequately support the rebels’ fight against Assad.
The United States has provided $114 million in aid to the Syrian opposition, the U.S. ambassador to Syria told Congress earlier this month — a higher figure than previously stated.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who made a surprise visit to Iraq on Sunday, said he wasn’t shocked to see al-Khatib resign.
“I have appreciated his leadership, but the notion that he might resign has frankly been expressed by him on many different occasions in many different places, and it is not a surprise,” Kerry said.
Some 70,000 Syrians have died during the conflict, according to the United Nations.