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By NADA BAKRI, nytimes.com / Published: August 25, 2011.
Ali Farzat, a political cartoonist, in a Damascus hospital - Reuters.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Masked gunmen severely beat Syria’s best-known political cartoonist on Thursday, breaking his hand and leaving him to bleed on the side of a road in Damascus, activists said.
The attack came days after the artist, Ali Farzat, published a cartoon showing President Bashar al-Assad hitching a ride out of town with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, who was toppled from power this week.
Also Thursday, Syrian security forces carried out military operations against antigovernment activists in several areas across the country, killing nine people, activists and residents said.
Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March, Mr. Farzat, whose cartoons are renowned through the Arab world, has aimed his pen at Mr. Assad and his crackdown on protesters.
Activists said that Mr. Farzat was seized at 4:30 a.m. in Umayyad Square in Old Damascus, as he was heading home from his studio. They said he was beaten severely and thrown out of a car along the airport road, where passers-by found him.