In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks during an interview with a U.S. magazine, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.(AP Photo/SANA)
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An influential relative of Syrian President Bashar Assad, once infamous for smuggling, has been assassinated in a dispute over control of a key government stronghold, activists said Saturday.The regime in turn used the shabiha to put down political dissent, most notably since the uprising against the government that began in March 2011 .Assad's father Hafez was born in Qardaha, and Latakia province remains a stronghold of support for his government.More than 210,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the conflict with anti-government protests in March 2011 .
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