BEIRUT // Syrian film, television, and theatre pioneer Rafiq Sebaie – best known to audiences as Abu Sayyah after one of his long-standing roles – has died at the age of 86.
Sebaie died of natural causes on Thursday. He had undergone a series of operations since breaking his hip in a fall at his home last year, Syrian state media said.
Often cast in tough-guy roles, Sebaie rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s, when Syrian cinema was considered among the best in the Arab world.
He enjoyed the appreciation of the late Syrian president Hafez Al Assad, father of Syria’s current president, who awarded him the title Actor of the People.
Sebaie repaid the sentiment as an outspoken supporter of the ruling family.
After Syria’s conflict broke out in 2011, Sebaie would appear on state TV criticising opposition fighters in what he said was a conspiracy against the country.
* Associated Press