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Syrian Interior Minister Reportedly Commits Suicide

The February assassination of Prime Minister Hariri led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops 12 October 2005 -- Officials in Damascus say Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan committed suicide in his office today.

The death of the 63-year-old Kanaan comes after a UN team investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri interviewed Kanaan and a number of other top Syrian figures in connection with the case last month.

Kanaan served for two decades as Syria's powerful military intelligence chief and virtual viceroy in Lebanon. He spoke to Voice of Lebanon radio earlier today and said it would be his "final declaration."

In the interview, Kanaan defended the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon. He said they had "done their utmost to preserve the unity of Lebanon" during their 29-year deployment.

The deployment came to an end in April amid outrage over the Hariri killing.