Syrian opposition's Michel Kilo dies in exile

Beirut (AFP) –

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Prominent exiled opposition figure Michel Kilo died of Covid-19 on Monday in Paris after a lifetime of peaceful struggle against Baath party rule in Syria, colleagues said.

Kilo, who turned 80 last year, was a key player in efforts to form a credible non-violent alternative to President Bashar al-Assad's regime during the early stages of the conflict that erupted a decade ago.

"A great loss. Professor Michel Kilo departed us today after he was infected with Covid-19," senior opposition figure Nasr Hariri wrote in a statement.

"Michel was an intellectual and patriotic powerhouse and his dream was to see a free and democratic Syria. God willing, the Syrian people will carry on this dream and see it through," he said.

Kilo, who was also a writer, was born in 1940 to a Christian family in Syria's Mediterranean town of Latakia, a bastion of the Assad family's Alawite minority.

He spent several in prison under the rule of Hafez al-Assad and of his son Bashar. In exile, Kilo had been living in France.