GAZA - A Hamas member whose charred body was found in his Damascus apartment was not assassinated as first thought but died from inhaling smoke, an official of the Islamist group said on Friday.

The body of Kamal Husni Ghanaja was found on June 27 in a cupboard above the ceiling of his ransacked apartment in the Qudsia neighborhood of Damascus and Hamas launched an investigation into what it had said was a "cowardly murder".

But a Hamas official with direct knowledge of the investigation, said on Friday that the group has found that Ghanaja was not assassinated.

"An internal investigation indicated brother Ghanaja died because of the smoke coming from a generator he used in his house ... he was not murdered," the Hamas official said.

The Syrian capital for years has served as a base for Hamas's leadership in exile but many of the group's top officials and their families have left during the past 16 months of violence in Syria.

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