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 A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.
The identity of the high-ranking military officer, who was reportedly killed as a result of the explosion, has not yet been revealed.
The Palestine branch of Syrian Military Intelligence is headed by Gen. Suleiman Dayoub, a close ally of President Bashar Al-Asad’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 has been the second incident this year directed against a security target. Earlier this year, Al-Asad’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 Al-Asad 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 Al-Mu’allim told reporters.
Al-Mu’allim said further that Israel was among the "biggest benefactors" of the attack.
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