Syria’s defence minister and Interior minister are among those who were killed after an explosion struck the National Security building in Damascus during a meeting of cabinet ministers and senior security officials, state media reported. Defence minister General Rajha and his deputy Assef Shawkat – the brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad – were killed on Wednesday in the deadliest assault on government officials since the violence began 16 months ago. Also killed were Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar and General Hassan Turkmani, a former defence minister and currently Syria’s deputy vice president, who later died of his injuries. The head of the national security office Hisham Bekhtyar were among those seriously wounded in the bombing, state television said. – Al Jazeera
THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY took aim at Pres. Bashar al-Assad’s leadership and made a direct hit.
“This is the volcano we talked about, we have just started,” spokesman Qassim Saadedine said.
According to Al Jazeera, the attack had the added impact of landing near where Pres. al-Assad lives.
Robert Fisk, in the interview below, made me chuckle when he gave a picture of Bashar al-Assad looking over his shoulder thinking about what would happen next, while wondering about the departure times to Russia.
UPDATE: On PBS, Judy Woodruff interviewed Frederic Wehrey, Carnegie Institute of Peace, and Steven Heydeman, U.S. Institute of Peace, who both said the statement by Pres. Obama of his conversation with Russia’s Putin signal a “convergence” on Syria. From the White House earlier today:
Readout of the President’s Call with President Putin
President Obama called Russian President Putin today to discuss the developing situation in Syria. The two Presidents noted the growing violence in Syria and agreed on the need to support a political transition as soon as possible that achieves our shared goal of ending the violence and avoiding a further deterioration of the situation. They noted the differences our governments have had on Syria, but agreed to have their teams continue to work toward a solution. President Obama also took the opportunity to express condolences on the tragic loss of life resulting from flooding in southern Russia earlier this month and reiterated the U.S. readiness to provide assistance if needed.
Watch The Day After: Supporting the Democratic Transition in Syria on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.