Syrian regime officials, including defense minister killed in bombing

Syria’s former defense minister General Daoud Rajha

A bomb ripped through a high-level security meeting Wednesday in Damascus, killing three top regime officials — including President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law — in the harshest blow to Syria’s ruling family dynasty and the rebels’ boldest attack in the country’s civil war.

Syrian state-run TV said the blast came during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and senior security officials in Damascus, which has seen four straight days of clashes between rebels and government troops.

Also killed were Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar and General Hassan Turkmani, a former defence minister and currently Syria’s deputy vice president, who later died of his injuries,The head of the national security office Hisham Bekhtyar were among those seriously wounded in the bombing, state television said.Syria’s rebel commander, Riad al-Asaad, said his forces carried out the attack.

Although state-run TV said it was a suicide blast, al-Asaad said his rebel forces planted a bomb in the room and detonated it. All those involved in carrying out the attack are safe, he said.

“God willing, this is the beginning of the end of the regime,” al-Asaad told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his base in neighbouring Turkey.

“Hopefully Bashar will be next,” he added.

President Assad appointed Fahd al-Freij as a new defense minister right after the explosion.

The violence in Syria has grown increasingly bloody and chaotic in recent months as the uprising has morphed from a peaceful revolt into an armed insurgency aimed at toppling Assad’s regime.

Source: Agencies
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