Suicide Blast Kills Syrian Defense Minister, Deputy Chief of Staff

Interior Minister Wounded in Blast Against Core Security Officials

Syria’s military and security leadership suffered a major blow today when a suicide blast killed three top security officials, including Defense Minister Gen. Daoud Rajha and former Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani, who is serving as an adviser during the civil war.

Also slain in the attack was Asef Shawkat, the deputy military chief of staff and President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law. Several other top officials, including Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar were seriously wounded in the attack, and Republican Guard forces surrounded the hospital in which they were being treated to prevent further attempts on their lives.

The attack could serve as yet another major polarizing incident in the country, as Gen. Rajha was the highest ranking Christian in the government. Syria’s Christian minority, some 10 percent of the population, has expressed concern that the war is going to turn Syria into another Iraq, destroying the bulk of their ancient community.

So far no group has claimed credit for the attack, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blasted Western nations for continuing to back the rebels, saying they should be trying to calm the situation down instead of “inciting it to go on.”

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.