Before meeting with Assad, Larijani met with leaders of the PFLP-GC and other pro-Assad Palestinian groups and discussed the latest Israeli-Hamas spasm of violence in Gaza that ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce on Wednesday. He pledged more Iranian assistance to Palestinians there, said Khaled Abdul-Majid, a Damascus-based Palestinian official who attended the meeting.
Speaking in Lebanon a few hours later, Larijani congratulated the Palestinian people for their "victory" in Gaza which he described as a "tsunami" against Israel.
Elsewhere, the Observatory said the body of Syrian novelist Mohammed Rashid Roweily was found late Thursday in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, nearly two months after he was kidnapped.
State TV said Roweily was "liquidated by terrorists" — a term the government uses for the rebels. Syrian authorities deny there is a popular uprising in the country and say the rebels are backed by foreign powers that seek to destroy the country.
Ruwiely, 65, was once the representative of Arab Writers' Union in Deir el-Zour and had written several novels. The Observatory said his decomposed body was found along with those of four others, including a retired army officer. All were kidnapped around the same time.
Journalist Bassil Toufic Youssef, who worked for state TV, was shot dead outside his house in the capital on Thursday, the state SANA news agency said.
In other developments, Qatar, which has backed Syria's rebels in the conflict, invited a newly formed opposition coalition to appoint an ambassador to the Gulf state, the Qatari news agency reported.
The broad coalition — called the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces — was formed Nov. 11 in Qatar under pressure from the United States for a stronger, more united opposition body to serve as a counterweight to the more extremist forces fighting Assad's regime.
The six-national oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Union's 27 foreign ministers recognized the Syrian coalition. Last week, France became the first Western nation to officially recognize the council. President Barack Obama said the U.S. isn't ready to recognize the group as a "government in exile" or to arm it.
Associated Press writer Zeina Karam in Beirut and Albert Aji in Damascus contributed to this report.
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