Syrian rebels were able to reach top officials of the Assad regime in today's deadly bomb attack. One was a relative of the president.
The deaths of several key members of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad in a bomb attack will provide a significant morale boost to armed opposition rebels as they launch their most ambitious offensive yet in the heart of Damascus, the Syrian capital.
In particular, the killing of Assef Shawkat, Assad’s brother-in-law, deputy defense minister and key pillar in the Alawite-dominated regime, suggests that no one in the regime is immune from the potential reach of the armed opposition, a grim fact that must send a shudder up the collective spine of the Syrian leadership.
Syrian state television claimed that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber. A Syrian security official was reported saying that the bomber was a bodyguard to inner regime figures, which allowed him access to a meeting of the “crisis cell” of top security officials in charge of trying to crush the uprising against Assad rule. The Free Syrian Army, the main armed opposition force, said that a bomb was planted in the room and that the attack was not carried out by a suicide bomber.
Other than Shawkat, those killed included Daoud Rajha, the defense minister, and Hassan Turkmani, a vice presidential aide and former defense minister. Ibrahim Shaar, the interior minister, was wounded, but Syrian authorities said he is in stable condition.
There were two claims of responsibility. The first was from Liwa al-Islam, an Islamist rebel group which said on its Facebook page that it had “targeted the cell called the crisis control room in the capital of Damascus.” A second claim came from the FSA.