Home > Middle East (Bariga Dhexe), News, POLITICS > Syria’s top security ministers slain in Damascus bombing + Related Articles

Syria’s top security ministers slain in Damascus bombing + Related Articles

Thursday, July 19, 2012

By RT

Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Daoud Rajha was killed by a suicide bombing attack at a national security building in Damascus. His deputy – Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat – has also been mortally wounded by the blast.
.

Syrian general Hassan Turkmani died of wounds sustained in the blast.
.

Another prominent governmental figure targeted by the attack is Syrian intelligence chief Hisham Bekhtyar. Bekhtyar is currently undergoing surgery for injuries sustained in the blast, a security source told Reuters.
.

There have also been multiple reports saying more explosions have been heard at an army base in Damascus.
.

Reuters has reported about five blasts close to the military base.
.

However, there have not been any official comments confirming the latest information.

.
The bomber who detonated the explosive worked as a bodyguard for President Bashar Assad’s inner circle, the news agency cites its sources as saying.

.
It also cites a Facebook statement by Liwa Al-Islam, a Syrian rebel Islamist group which has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Free Syrian Army also claimed responsibility for the attack, according to spokesman Qassim Saadedine.

.
A rebel commander identified as Riyad al-Assad says the bomb was planted inside a room where senior government officials were meeting. However, he denied information which suggested the deadly blast was a suicide bombing.

.

The Syrian government put the blame for the “terrorist bomb attack” on “hired hands” and pledged to pursue perpetrators and wipe out “criminal gangs,” state TV reported.

.
A meeting of Syrian ministers and security officials was taking place on the premises at the time of the blast. Several top Syrian officials have been badly wounded by the bombing. The area around the national security building in Rawda district has been cordoned off.

.

Damascus has already appointed a new defense minister, state TV reports. Gen Fahad Jassim al-Freij, who was previously the chief of staff of the armed forces, will now take the top cabinet post.

.
It is the highest-profile killing of a Syrian official during the 17-month-long conflict in the country. Earlier lower-ranking officials and military officers had reportedly been killed or abducted by the armed opposition.

.
The attack comes amid a major armed opposition offensive in the city. The fourth day of fighting has seen gunfights erupting within sight of Bashar Assad’s presidential palace.

.
The violence comes ahead of a UN Security Council session which is tasked with deciding whether to prolong an observer mission in Syria before it expires on Friday. All members agree that the mission should continue its work, but differ on the wording of a resolution which would allow it happen.

.
Russia and China propose a neutral resolution calling on a cessation of all hostilities. Western members have called for a stronger document which would open the way for sanctions or even military action against the Syrian government if it fails to stop using heavy weapons against the rebels and withdrawal its troops from the streets.

.

Moscow has noticed a “dangerous pattern”, whereby discussions over a resolution of the Syrian conflict in the United Nations Security Council are met with ramped up operations on the part of militants.
.
“A dangerous pattern [has emerged]: when the UN Security Council debates resolving the crisis in Syria, militants launch attacks, tearing down all attempts [at a peaceful settlement],” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov posted on Twitter.

.

 

Update  19 July 2012.

.

RT

.

Related Articles:

 

.

Free Syrian Army claims responsibility for blast

.

The anti-government Free Syrian Army has claimed responsibility for an explosion in the National Security building on Wednesday in the capital, Damascus.

A senior official of the organization told NHK that explosives were planted in the building where ministers and security officials were meeting. The official says members of President Bashar al-Assad’s administration helped set the explosives.

The official says the Free Syrian Army intends to carry out more attacks aimed at toppling the Assad administration in what is being called Operation Damascus Volcano.

Syria’s state-run television reports Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha and deputy defense minister Assef Shawkat were among the victims.

Shawkat was the husband of President Bashar al-Assad’s elder sister.
Jul. 18, 2012 – Updated 17:06 UTC (02:06 JST)

NHK.

.

Syria’s defense minister and deputy killed

.

A bomb blast in Damascus has killed Syria’s defense and deputy defense ministers in an escalation of fighting in the capital.

Syria’s military reported on state-run television that Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha and deputy defense minister Assef Shawkat were among the victims in a bomb explosion. Shawkat was President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law.

The military said terrorists carried out the attack on the National Security building on Wednesday. It pledged to defend the country and gain revenge on the rebels.

The Syrian government says General Fahd al-Freij has been appointed as the new defense minister.

Reports on Syrian national TV said the defense officials were at a meeting with other cabinet ministers and security officials when the blast ripped through the building.

It said Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar was also wounded, but is in stable condition.

The dead Syrian Defense Minister Rajha was in his 60s. Dubai-based Al Arabiya satellite TV says that he graduated from a military academy and served a string of posts before becoming defense minister last August.

He is said to have been a trusted official to President Bashar al-Assad. Anti-government forces condemned him for playing the key role in suppressing citizens.

Rajha was on a sanctions list of the US Treasury Department, which considered him a key figure in the Assad administration.

He was a rare senior Christian official in Assad’s government, whose ministers are mostly Alawi Muslims.

The National Security building attacked is located in a high-class residential area near Rawda Square in Damascus. The same neighborhood hosts the Syrian foreign ministry office and the embassies of the US, Japan and other countries.

Staff at the Japanese embassy told NHK over the phone that they did not hear the blast.

Gunshots and explosions have been heard around military facilities close to the presidential office in central Damascus since Wednesday morning.

Anti-government forces launched attacks on Damascus on Sunday and fierce fighting has continued since that time.

The opposition Free Syrian Army on Tuesday declared that it had started an operation to liberate the capital.

.
Jul. 18, 2012 – Updated 16:33 UTC (01:33 JST)

.

NHK.