Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Syria :Suicide bomb kills defence minister

A suicide bomber struck the National Security building in the Syrian capital Wednesday, killing the defense minister and wounding the interior minister in a brazen attack on the seat of government power, state-run TV said.

Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, 65, a former army general, is the most senior government official to be killed in the Syrian civil war as rebels battle to oust President Bashar Assad. Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar was in stable condition, state-run TV said.

Although it was unclear who was behind the attack, the high-level assassination could signal a turning point in the 16-month conflict as the violence becomes increasingly chaotic.

The capital also has seen four straight days of clashes pitting government troops against rebels — an unprecedented challenge to government rule in the tightly controlled capital.

Rajha was the most senior Christian government official in Syria. Assad appointed him to the post last year. His death will resonate with Syria's minority Christian population, who make up about 10 percent of Syria's population and have generally stood by the regime.At least 45 people were said to have been killed in the conflict.

For the past three days, rebels have been clashing with troops in an operation called ‘Damascus Volcano’ in a final combat for the capital.

Earlier in the day, Syrian President Bashar-al Assad government’s officials denied rebels’ claims to launch an ‘all-out offensive’ in Damascus.

In an attempt to restore peace in a long-time protesting Syria, UN-appointed Arab League’s peace envoy, Kofi Annan held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday.

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