A powerful suicide bombing in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Wednesday injuring many and killing at least two people — all high-ranking Syrian officials.
The two confirmed dead include defense minister, Daoud Rajha, and Daoud Rajha Daoud Rajha, President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law, the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military. The pair had been meeting along with other members of the Syrian crisis group, which has sought to enforce a military end to the long civil war that has embroiled the nation.
According to reports from The New York Times, it is believed, though unconfirmed, that the suicide bomb may have been detonated by a body guard of one of the ministers attending the meeting. Syrian rebels hailed the attack as a major victory in their effort to unseat Assad.
“The Syrian regime has started to collapse,” the activist who heads the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said to the Times. “There was fighting for three days inside Damascus, it was not just a gun battle, and now someone has killed or injured all these important people.”
That a bodyguard may have committed the attack raises doubts about the continued viability of the Assad regime. A bodyguard for Assad could just as easily detonate a bomb.
According to the BBC, both the Free Syrian Army and a jihadist group called the Lord of the Martyrs Brigade claimed credit for the bombing. BBC Correspondent Jim Muir said rebels leaders believe, with the success of this attack, victory over Assad is finally in sight.
Both the Times and the BBC, citing unconfirmed reports, said Hisham Ikhtiar, director the National Security Bureau, and Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, were among those wounded in the attacks.
The violence comes at a critical time for diplomatic efforts to end the violence. The United Nations is expected on Wednesday to vote on whether to renew the peacekeeping mission that, to date, has all but failed to stem the violence. U.N. envoy Kofi Annan was meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon was meeting with China's Hu Jintao, in an effort to secure their support for extending the U.N. mission in Syria.