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Mysterious explosion near Damascus on Saturday

28-9-2008

Top Syrian officer among bomb victims’

Sep. 28, 2008
The Media Line News Agency , THE JERUSALEM POST

A mysterious explosion near Damascus on Saturday claimed the lives of at least 17 people, including a brigadier-general, further destabilizing the Syrian regime.

A car bomb carrying 200 kilograms of explosives exploded near the Palestine branch of Syrian Military Intelligence, the London-based daily Asharq Alawsat reported.

The identity of the high-ranking military officer, who was reportedly killed as a result of the explosion, had not yet been revealed.

The Palestine branch of Syrian Military Intelligence is headed by Gen. Suleiman Dayoub, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law, Gen. Asif Shawkat, who heads Military Intelligence and is considered one of the strongest men in the Syrian regime.

No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack.

The Media Line’s analysts indicate this was the second incident this year directed against a security target. Earlier this year, Assad’s top security adviser Muhammad Suleiman was assassinated in Tartous. The investigation into his murder was not made public.

Saturday’s attack may be connected to Suleiman’s assassination and to a behind-the-scenes battle within the top Syrian security command. Various unconfirmed reports over the past few months indicated that Assad may have begun to worry about Shawkat’s increasing power.

Syria, of course, is not revealing any such internal disputes, and is trying to place the blame on outside elements.

“Unfortunately, in the years that followed the American war on terror, terrorism has further spread. These kinds of incidents can occur anywhere and are not indicative of security breaches,” Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told reporters.

Muallem said further that Israel was among the “biggest benefactors” of the attack.

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – An explosion occurred near the airport road in the Syrian capital Damascus on Saturday, witnesses said.

Security forces cordoned off the area, the witnesses said. No other details were immediately available.

It was the first explosion in Syria since the car bomb assassination of Imad Moughniyah, military commander of the Islamist group Hezbollah, in February.

Last month, a senior security officer was killed at a beach resort near the port city of Tartous in mysterious circumstances, shaking the tightly controlled country.

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