Syrian writer and veteran government critic Khaled Khalifa has died of cardiac arrest at the age of 59 at his home in Damascus, a close friend told AFP.
Khalifa, who hailed from Maryamin in northwestern Aleppo province, was celebrated for his novels, television screenplays and newspaper columns, and honoured with several of the Arab world's top literary awards.
He "died in his home alone in Damascus" on Saturday, said journalist Yaroub Aleesa, who had spent time with the author during his final days. "We called him repeatedly and he didn't respond. When we went to his home, we found him dead on the sofa."
Doctors at the Abbassiyyin Hospital in Damascus said the cause of death was a heart attack.