Amid claims of a major rebel offensive on Damascus, Syrian Defence Minister Gen Daoud Rajiha has been killed, on Wednesday 07/18/2012, in a suspected suicide bombing at the headquarters of the National Security Bureau in the capital Damascus, Syrian state TV said.

Other senior officials are said to be critically hurt. They were meeting inside the building at the time. The area around the building, in Rawda district, has been sealed off. The attack comes amid claims of a major rebel offensive on the city. Syrian officials have downplayed the attacks. “The Minister of Defence was martyred by the terrorist bombing that targeted the national security building,” the TV report said.

Security sources say the suspected bomber worked as a bodyguard for members of President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle. Gen Daoud Rajiha has been defence minister for less than a year, serving previously as chief of staff, and is on a US blacklist for his role in the suppression of dissent. Gen Daoud Rajiha is believed to be an Orthodox Christian, a rarity in the Alawite-dominated Syrian military and government but Christians are part of the Syrian “coalition of minorities” comprised from Alawites, Druzes and Christians, who fear Sunni domination in Syria and religious radicalization on expense of the minorities as it is all over the Middle East (see – MEast Christians 2011).

According to Hizbullah’s al-Manar television and a security source in Syria Assef Shawkat, brother-in-law of President Bashar Assad, who was already targeted by opposition in Syria (see – Shawkats Enigma), was also killed in the bomb attack which targeted a meeting of Assad’s top security and military officials.

The security source told Reuters Shawkat died in a Damascus hospital where he was taken after the attack. State television earlier admitted Defence Minister Daoud Rajha was, indeed, killed in the bombing. The attack also left Syrian interior minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar and the head of the national security office, Hisham Bekhtyar, critically wounded. Later reports suggested that retired Gen. and former head of staff Gen’ Hasan Turkmani was killed too in the attack and Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, the interior minister, died from his wounds.

The attack comes as UN chiefs have been trying to persuade China and Russia to agree tougher measures on Syria, ahead of a Security Council vote on Wednesday on imposing sanctions.

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met Chinese leader Hu Jintao in Beijing.There are little doubt that Bashar Assad’s regime lost its grip on Syria, his inner circle is penetrated and its ability to regain control on the country no longer exist. Therefore the prospect of the division of Syria to its ethnic ingredients is growing by day and a formation of an Alawites independent state on the Mediterranean shore in North-West Syria is one of the options (see – MEAST INGREDIENTS ).

* The Iranian Fars news agency said, on Tuesday 07/24/2012,the Syrian authorities have arrested a person said to have carried out the bombing. The suspect worked at the security headquarters in Damascus quoting Syrian parliament member Mohammad Zahir Ghanoum as saying.

* Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told a Saudi newspaper, on Tuesday 08/14/2012, that Gen. Maher Assad, President Bashar Assad’s brother, lost both his legs in the Damascus headquarters bombing and has been fighting for his life ever since.


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