Syrian defense minister killed in suicide bombing
Syria’s defense minister General Daoud Rajha was killed on Wednesday in a suicide bombing targeting the National Security headquarters in central Damascus, state television reported.
Security officials told AFP that several other participants attending a high-level meeting were wounded in the blast and taken to Al-Shami hospital in the capital for treatment.
The officials said Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar was among the wounded.
The morning attack targeted the regime’s most senior security chiefs, state television said, adding that some of the meeting’s participants were “badly wounded.”
The bombing came in the high security Rawda district in the heart of the capital as battles between regime forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) raged in Damascus for the fourth consecutive day.
Rajha, a Christian, was defense minister, deputy army chief and deputy head of the Council of Ministers. President Bashar al-Assad is overall commander of the military.
The National Security branch — a linchpin of Syria’s security apparatus — is headed by General Hisham Ikhtiyar. There was no immediate news of Ikhtiyar’s fate after the bombing.
Born in 1941, Ikhtiyar is a key figure in the regime’s repression of the 16-month revolt.
In mid-May this year, a reported attempt was made to poison Rajha, Ikhtiyar and other key regime figures. A delivery boy was said to have added mercury to their food during a meal before fleeing.
[image via Agence France-Presse]