Smoke fills the air at the scene of two huge bomb explosions outside the Palace of Justice in Central Damascus.—AFP Photo
Smoke fills the air at the scene of two huge bomb explosions outside the Palace of Justice in Central Damascus. — AFP Photo

BEIRUT: Syria's state-run TV says the country's defence minister as well as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law and deputy defence minister Assef Shawkat  were killed in a suicide bomb attack targeting a meeting of top security chiefs in Damascus on Wednesday, state television said.

A suicide bomber struck the National Security building in Damascus Wednesday during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and senior security officials, state-run media said.

The blast came as the capital has seen four straight days of clashes pitting government troops against rebels, who are trying to bring down the regime by force.

The fighting is an unprecedented challenge to government rule in President Bashar Assad's seat of power and a sign the civil war is likely to worsen as the Syrian regime struggles to halt the opposition's growing momentum.

The violence has grown increasingly chaotic over the course of the uprising that began last year. Besides the government crackdown, rebel fighters are launching increasingly deadly attacks on regime targets, and several massive suicide attacks this year suggest al-Qaida or other extremists are joining the fray. Activists say more than 17,000 people have been killed in the uprising.

The state-run news agency SANA reported that Wednesday's blast was aimed at the National Security building, a headquarters for one of Syria's intelligence branches and less than 500 meters (yards) from the US Embassy.

Witnesses said police had cordoned off the area, and journalists were banned from approaching the site.

Earlier Wednesday, SANA said soldiers were chasing rebels in the Midan neighborhood, causing ''great losses among them.'' The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said army helicopters attacked the neighborhoods of Qaboun and Barzeh.

A UN vote was set for later Wednesday on a new Syria resolution.


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Comments (12) (Closed)


Rashid
Jul 18, 2012 01:12pm
The western powers have started have started a new civil war in the middle east....
Ahmed
Jul 18, 2012 01:12pm
Perhaps he is afraid that once out of power he will be charged with the deaths of 15,000 Syrians (not to mention the tens of thousands more tortured or killed by him). This is the biggest problem with being a dictator - the options he has are takht ya takhta (the throne or the execution block).
M Sajid
Jul 18, 2012 12:16pm
I hope Bashar al-Assad, through hindsight, gets a message from this incident in order to avoid humuliation that was faced by Saddam and Ghadaffi. I fail to understand why he doesn't care about his family and leave the seat in exchange for a safe heaven to spend the rest of his life in a quite place.
@SecularPakista1
Jul 18, 2012 12:53pm
Once you have the drug called power it is difficult to give up that high. Bashar Al Assad and all the despots, now mostly concentrated in the Muslim world are acting like drug addicts who will ruin their country and themsleves just to keep their addiction to power. He is like a monkey caught in a trap, ultimately loosing his life. Unfortunately, many innocent children will die before he does. Once again Saudi Arabia's Wahabbi meddling fingerprints, in cahoots with the US are apparent. In the not too distant future Saudi Royals will be facing the same music of Hosni Mubarak. All the kings men and and all the kings mullahs will not save the fat Saudi Humpty Dumptys
Jayman
Jul 18, 2012 12:51pm
That is the effect power has on the mind of an individual. It is the worst form of addiction and corruption of the psyche.
Adnan Alam
Jul 18, 2012 12:44pm
M Sajid, Mr. Assad is not as short-sighted as you think he may be. It is honourable for a captain to go down if his ship goes down. He is not like the leaders in Pakistan who would succumb and do as you have suggested, as would you had you been in his shoes (to escape humiliation, as you have suggested). You have not just failed to understand why he doesn't care about his family, but have also failed to understand the meaning of nationalism. Thank you.
ahmadali86
Jul 18, 2012 12:39pm
Sad to hear. One of my friend from Syria working with me had his brother killed last week. Are we looking things in Syria like Iraq in near future? Mr Assad should resign now, he's given a clear message. if he act like Ghadaffi then get ready for the aftermath.
Syed
Jul 18, 2012 02:14pm
We have to look why the peacefull Syria turn violent in last 16 months.... Every thing was normal there but only to kill muslims some external forces start terrorism in syria. Syrian Army and rebel army should cool down and think that this is their own honeland why should kill each other just track down who is creating misunderstanding among them. Cool down cool down to save your future your children your home land your culture...... please think on it make peace from tomorrow
akhter
Jul 18, 2012 05:44pm
I hope Bashar al-Assad, through hindsight, gets a message from this incident in order to avoid humuliation that was faced by Saddam and Ghadaffi. I fail to understand why he doesn't care about his family and leave the seat in exchange for a safe heaven to spend the rest of his life in a quite place.
akhter
Jul 18, 2012 05:57pm
M Sajid, Mr. Assad is not as short-sighted as you think he may be. It is honourable for a captain to go down if his ship goes down. He is not like the leaders in Pakistan who would succumb and do as you have suggested, as would you had you been in his shoes (to escape humiliation, as you have suggested). You have not just failed to understand why he doesn't care about his family, but have also failed to understand the meaning of nationalism. Thank you.
akhter
Jul 18, 2012 05:57pm
oh no
Ajaya K Dutt
Jul 19, 2012 03:45am
Every thing was normal there but only to kill muslims some external forces start terrorism in syria.