A Syrian activist group says gunmen have shot and killed a government official in a Damascus restaurant.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Ali Ballan, head of public relations at the Ministry of Social Affairs and a member of Syria's relief agency was killed late Thursday.

The group, which relies on a network of activists in Syria, said the shooting occurred in the western neighborhood of Mazzeh. It gave no further details Friday.

Damascus has witnessed a number of assassinations since the country's crisis began in March 2011.

Last month, a suicide bomb killed top Sunni Muslim preacher Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti in a Damascus mosque.

On July 18, a bomb inside a high-level crisis meeting in Damascus killed top security officials, including the defense minister.