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Syria - Film Claiming to be of the National Security Building where the
Assad Regime leaders perished today due to a remote control explosive
When Blast Occured 7-18-12 Damascus
تفجير مبنى الأمن القومي واغتيال أعضاء خلية الأزمة.flv
(Reuters) - Syria's defense minister and President Bashar al-Assad's
brother-in-law were killed in a Damascus suicide bomb attack carried out
by a bodyguard on Wednesday, the most serious blow to Assad's high
command in the country's 16-month-old rebellion.
The bomber, said by a
security source to be a bodyguard assigned to Assad's inner circle,
struck a meeting attended by ministers and senior security officials as
battles raged within sight of the presidential palace.
television said Defence Minister Daoud Rajha and Assad's brother-in-law
Assef Shawkat, the deputy defence minister, had been killed in a
"terrorist bombing" and pledged to wipe out "criminal gangs".
Syrian security source confirmed Shawkat, 62, - a pillar of Assad's rule
- was killed and said intelligence chief Hisham Bekhtyar was wounded.
State television said Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar had
also been wounded in the blast.
The men form the core of a military
crisis unit led by Assad to take charge of crushing the revolt and the
authorities immediately appointed a new defence minister, Fahad Jassim
al-Freij, previously the armed forces' chief of staff, to avoid
appearing paralyzed by the attack.
Assad has not appeared in public
since the attack or made any statement, but sources with knowledge of
the situation said he was not at the meeting where it took place.
explosion appeared to be part of a coordinated assault on the fourth
day of fighting in the capital which rebel fighters have called the
"liberation of Damascus".
Five explosions were heard later on
Wednesday close to the base of the elite 4th armored division, led by
Assad's brother Maher, residents said. The division has been
instrumental in confronting dissent, quelling protests in Deraa, Homs
Rebels say they have brought reinforcements from outside
the city to end four decades of rule by the Assad family by attacking
the power base of the ruling elite for the first time.
Guard troops sealed off the Shami hospital near the site of the
explosion at the security meeting, activists said. An army statement
issued after the blast said Syria was "more determined than ever to
confront all forms of terrorism and chop off any hand that harms
An army barracks near the "palace of the people",
a huge Soviet-style complex overlooking the city from the western
district of Dummar, came under rebel fire around 7.30 a.m. (0030 EDT),
activists and a resident said.
"I could hear the sound of small arms
fire, and explosions are getting louder and louder from the direction of
the barracks," Yasmine, an architect, said by telephone from Dummar.
is a secure area containing many auxiliary installations for the
presidential palace and the barracks is just hundreds of meters from the
Two rebel groups claimed the attack on the security meeting.
is the volcano we talked about, we have just started," said Qassim
Saadedine, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, a group of army
defectors and Sunni youths.
Liwa al-Islam, an Islamist rebel group
whose name means "The Brigade of Islam", said it had carried out the
attack after weeks of planning and gave a different version of events.
men managed to plant improvised explosives in the building for the
meeting. We had been planning this for over a month," a spokesman for
the group, who asked to be identified as Abu Ammar, said by telephone.
State television said earlier that it was a suicide bombing.
terrorist explosion which targeted the national security building in
Damascus occurred during a meeting of ministers and a number of heads of
(security) agencies," it said.
Fighting also erupted overnight in
the southern neighborhoods of Asali and Qadam, and Hajar al-Aswad and
Tadamun - mainly Sunni Muslim districts housing Damascenes and
Assad and the ruling elite belong to the
minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that has held power
in Syria since a 1963 coup.
It has endured more than a year of rebellion but recent high level defections signaled support beginning to fall away.
Syrian brigadier-generals were among 600 Syrians who fled from Syria to
Turkey overnight, a Turkish official said on Wednesday, bringing the
number of Syrian generals sheltering in Turkey to 20, including a
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