Defense Minister, His Deputy and Assistant Vice-President Martyred in Terrorist Explosion Targeting National Security HQ in Damascus
DAMASCUS (SANA) – Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Armed Forces, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense Gen. Dawood Rajiha, Deputy Minister of Defense Gen. Asef Shawkat and Assisstant Vice-President Gen. Hassan Turkmani were martyred on Wednesday in a terrorist explosion targeting the National Security headquarters in Damascus.
The terrorist blast happened while a meeting of a number of ministers and senior military and security officials was taking place, causing injuries among the attenendees, some of them critical.
An official source confirmed in a statement to SANA that Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Mohammad al-Shaar and and Lt. Gen. Hisham are in a stable health condition.
Martyr Rajiha was born in 1947 in Damascus, and he graduated from the Military Academy in 1968, specialized in artillery. He took several military training courses, including Leadership and Staff course and Higher Staff course. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1998, ad he was made General in 2005.
He occupied various military posts including battalion and brigade commander and director of a number of directorates and departments at the Armed Forces, and he was appointed Deputy Chief of General Staff in 2004 and later Chief of General Staff in 2009.
He was awarded several military medals during the course of his career, and he was married and left behind four children.
Martyr General Asef Shawkat
Martyr General Asef Shawkat was born in al-Madhala, Tartous in 1950. He joined the Military Academy to graduate as an Infantry officer.
He took part in Tishreen Liberation War in 1973, continued his studies in Law, then his higher studies in history. He gained his doctorate in History in 1976.
Martyr Shawkat occupied several posts. In 2005, he was appointed as Commander of the Military Intelligence, then he was promoted to General in 2009.
Later, he was appointed as Deputy Defense Minister.
Martyr General Hassan Turkmani:
General Turkmani was born in Aleppo, 1935. He joined the Military Academy in 1954. He was graduated from the Artillery School in 1956.
Turknami participated in Tishreen Liberation War as Commander of a division.
He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1978, then to General in 1988.
He was appointed as Deputy- Chief of Staff in 1982, then as Chief of Staff in 2002.
Defense Minister since 2004 till 2009.
He was appointed as Assistant Vice President on June, 3rd 2009.
Attack on National Security HQ Condemned
DAMASCUS, (SANA)_The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) condemned the terrorist bombing that caused the martyrdom of Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Armed Forces, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense Gen. Dawood Rajiha, and Deputy Minister of Defense Gen. Asef Shawkat, considering that Israel is the only beneficiary from assassinating commanders of the Syrian military establishment.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Popular Front stressed that the martyrs of the Syrian army are the martyrs of Palestine.
The Front saw that the systematic targeting of the Syrian Arab army, the latest of which was assassinating Gen Rajiha and Gen. Sahwkat, is a crime in which the involvement of Israel’s collaborators is evident.
People of Occupied Syrian Golan Condemn the Terrorist Attack against National Security HQ The people of the occupied Syrian Golan condemned the terrorist attack against the National Security headquarters on Wednesday.
In a statement on Wednesday, they stressed that this terrorist act serves the enemy of the homeland who seeks to undermine Syria.
The people of Golan reiterated support to the comprehensive reform program that achieves security and stability in Syria and puts an end to foreign-funded terrorist attacks that target state and media institutions and the law-enforcement and army members.
Ministry of Information: News and Photos Broadcast by Some Media on Terrorist Bombing at National Security HQ Baseless
DAMASCUS, (SANA) – The Ministry of Information said “Since the terrorist bombing which caused the death of Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Armed Forces, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense Gen. Dawood Rajiha, Deputy Minister of Defense Gen. Asef Shawkat and Assistant Vice-President Gen. Hassan Turkmani hundreds of websites, social networking websites and satellite channels started broadcasting huge amount of information, news and photos aimed at undermining the morals of the Syrian citizen.”
In its statement on Wednesday, the Ministry stressed that all these news and photos are baseless and have been prepared by western intelligence apparatuses and psychological war centers, adding that the goals of this campaign revealed a clear weakness on the side of the conspirators against Syria abroad and their tools inside Syria.
The statement added that weakness and frustration pushed these websites and satellite channels towards such a desperate attempt to get out of its frustration.
The statement pointed out that “the Ministry condemns this cheap manner of media and calls for giving up these ways which have been exposed to the public opinion” as it calls these satellite channels and websites to admit of their failure in their open media war against Syria.
The ministry stressed that the hired media will not be able to achieve what the armed gangs failed to achieve.
Al-Zoubi: Responsibility for Terrorist Explosion in Damascus Lies with the Countries Sending Money and Arms to Syria
Earlier, Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi stressed in an interview with the Syrian TV that the terrorist explosion which targeted the National Security headquarters in Damascus expresses Syria’s enemies’ feeling of weakness and frustration at the strength and firmness of the Syrian Arab Army and at the terrorists’ failure to undermine the Army’s unity.
The Minister held the Qatari, Saudi, Turkish and Israeli intelligence accountable for the terrorist bombing which hit the building of the National Security.
He added that Arab and western governments, intelligence systems and agents are legally, politically and morally responsible for the killing, assassination and sabotage acts taking place in Syria for sending money and arms to the terrorists in it and that they will be punished for their crimes.
Al-Zoubi said that the Syrian army will protect the country and safeguard the homeland, calling upon the intelligence systems, agents and governments which conspired against Syria and its people to stop their terrorist activities.
He said that “We are a real state, a real people and a real army…We have always been able to defend ourselves against any aggression and conspiracies… We will hold them accountable according to the legal, moral, political and legitimate international tools.”
The Minister said that this coward terrorist act, which came a few days after successful military maneuvers were conducted by the Syrian armed forces which proved the Syrian army’s firmness and ability to confront any foreign attack indicates the weakness and the frustration of Syria’s enemies, which pushed those who supply the terrorists with money and arms to target the leaders of this army.
Al-Zoubi said that what happened today is “the last chapter of the U.S.-Western-Israeli conspiracy against Syria”, stressing that the morals of the Syrian people and Army are high and at their best and that Syria’s enemies are mistaken in their assessment of the strength of the people, army and the country.
He dismissed what the satellite channels that are involved in shedding the Syrian blood have reported on explosions taking place in Damascus as “completely untrue”, stressing that Syria will not let these channels which went too far in the media war on the Syrian people get away with their crime of instigation against Syria and that they will be sued.
Al-Zoubi underscored the Syrian Armed Forces’ full preparedness and determination to uproot terrorism in Syria.
R. Raslan/ H. Said
Russia, Iran Condemn Terrorist Attack on National Security HQ in Damascus
DAMASCUS, (SANA)-Russia on Wednesday condemned the terrorist explosion which hit the National Security HQ in Damascus.
“Moscow strongly condemns terrorism with all its forms.. and rely on finding and punishing those who committed this terrorist attack,” Alexander Lukachevich, spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
He added “we see that what happened was an attempt to continue undermining the situation in Syria.. we are confident that the authority and people in Syria will seek a peaceful settlement to the crisis in Syria.”
Lukachevich expressed condolences to the Syrian people, government and families of the victims.
Iran Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attack on National Security HQ The Iranian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the terrorist attack that targeted the National Security headquarters, affirming that any attempt to destabilize Syria will reflect on the whole region.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Ministry said that Iran strongly condemns the terrorist attack that led to the martyrdom of a number of officials and wounded several others, offering deep condolences of the Iranian government and people to the Syrian people and government.
The statement added that foreign interference and sending weapons and the backing provided by regional and western countries to the armed terrorist groups will lead to nowhere.
The statement added that Iran repeatedly stressed its condemnation of all forms of violence and resort to sabotage acts, stressing that Iran believes that the sole exit from the Syrian crisis is through dialogue.
In a statement to al-Alam TV Channel on Wednesday, Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdullahian said that Iran strongly condemns the terrorist attack, stressing that the parties which are sending weapons and supporting the armed groups in Syria have failed in destabilizing the country.
Abdullahian expressed the support of his country to the Syrian people and the reform program led by President Bashar al-Assad, indicating that foreign sides are attempting to foil the plan of the UN envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan.
M. Ismael/ Mazen
Four top Syrian officials have been killed in a terrorist bomb attack at a security building in the capital as armed groups fighting against the government step up violence in Damascus.
Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, his deputy Assef Shawkat, Security Chief General Hisham Ikhtiyar and Assistance Vice President Hassan Turkmani were all killed in a bombing at the headquarters of the National Security on Wednesday.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appointed chief of staff of the armed forces General Fahd al-Jassem al-Freij as the country’s new defense minister.
Shawkat is President Assad’s brother-in-law and Turkmani was the head of the crisis management office.
Many others, including Syria’s Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, were injured in the attack. He is reported to be in a stable condition.
Cabinet ministers and senior security officials were meeting inside the building in Rawda district at the time of the explosion.
The terrorist Free Syrian Army (FSA) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The FSA has also warned of more violence in the capital in coming days.
While some reports suggest that a bomber worked as a bodyguard for the officials inside the building detonated the explosives he was carrying, FSA claims that its forces had planted a bomb inside the room where the meeting was being held and that the group had been planning this for over a month.
Meanwhile, several explosions were reported close to the base of the military’s fourth division in the capital, which is responsible for guarding the presidential palace and led by President Assad’s brother. But Syria’s Information Minister Omran Zohbi denied that they had taken place.
In a media briefing shortly after the attack, Zohbi blamed Western spy agencies for the bombing.
The Syrian army has also pledged a crushing response to armed groups fighting against the government, stressing that it will continue to fight terrorism and wipe out criminal gangs.
“The terrorist act increases the armed forces’ determination to cleanse the country of terrorist groups,” the army said in a statement.
Iran condemns recent terrorist attack in Syria
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the recent bomb attack in Syria’s capital that killed and injured several senior Syrian officials.
In a statement on Wednesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly slammed the terrorist attack, expressing the Islamic Republic’s condolences to the Syrian government and nation.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns any violence and resorting to destructive measures and believes that the only way to overcome the current crisis in Syria is through [holding] talks in order to find political ways for the existing problems,” the Foreign Ministry statement said adding, “Because every instability in this country can fuel crisis and chaos in the region and lead to more violence and unrest.”
“There is no doubt that foreign interferences and sending weapons and ammunition to Syria and the support of certain regional and international parties for terrorist attacks which target Syria’s stability and security and its resilient nation will not succeed and such activities must stop as soon as possible,” the statement added.
Four senior Syrian officials including Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, Deputy Defense minister Assef Shawkat, Security Chief General Hisham Ikhtiyar and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmeni were killed in the bombing at the headquarters of the National Security Bureau on Wednesday.
Cabinet ministers and senior security officials were meeting inside the building at the time of the explosion. Many others, including Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, were injured in the blast. He is reported to be in a stable condition.
Russia denounces killing of Syrian officials as attempt to weaken Damascus
Russia has blasted the recent attempt by the Syrian opposition “to destabilize the situation in Syria”, saying that those behind Damascus “act of terror”, which led to the killing of several top Syrian officials, must be punished.
“We expect the organizers of the act of terror in Damascus to be identified and for them to face their deserved punishment,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement also added that Moscow regards “the events as another attempt to further destabilize the situation” in the crisis-hit country.
The comments were made in response to a terrorist bomb attack at the headquarters of the National Security Bureau in the capital Damascus on Wednesday.
Syria’s Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, Security Chief General Hisham Ikhtiyar and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani were killed in the explosion.
Many others, including Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, were also injured in the attack. The minister is reportedly in stable condition now.
The terrorist Free Syrian Army (FSA) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The FSA has also warned of more violence in the capital in the coming days.
“We are certain that in the face of hardship, the authorities and the people of this country [Syria]– all its true patriots — will display the required political will and desire to find a rapid peaceful settlement of their internal crisis,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army has pledged a crushing response to armed groups fighting against the government, stressing that it will continue to fight terrorism and wipe out criminal gangs.
“The terrorist act increases the armed forces’ determination to cleanse the country of terrorist groups,” the army said in a statement.
Four key Syrian military officials including Defense Minister Gen. Daoud Rajha and President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, who served as his deputy, were killed at a top-level meeting in central Damascus.
The attack took place at the National Security building in the district of Rawda, where government ministers and a number of security officials had convened.
Syrian General Hassan Turkmani – a former defense minister and senior military official – and Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar died from wounds sustained in the blast.
A number of attendees received serious injuries, and some of them remain in critical condition.
Another prominent governmental figure targeted by the attack is Syrian intelligence chief Hisham Bekhtyar. Bekhtyar is currently undergoing surgery for injuries sustained in the blast, a security source told Reuters.
It has also been reported that Maher al-Assad, the president’s younger brother and the commander of the Syrian Army’s elite Fourth Armored Division, was also injured.
The “confirmed” information the Free Syrian Army claims to have received suggests that he is most likely being treated by his personal medical team at the presidential palace or at a secret location.
“We were able to hear the sound of this explosion and we have to admit that it was a very intense and massive blast,” RT’s Maria Finoshina reported from Damascus.
She said the blast occurred in a traditionally safe and calm upscale neighborhood where many government buildings are located.
“So of course security has been very tight, specifically in this area,” Finoshina told RT’s Moscow bureau.
The area around the national security building in the Rawda district has been cordoned off.
Damage shows the explosion happened from within the building. (RT photo/Maria Finoshina)
Islamist rebel group behind the attack
A Syrian rebel Islamist group, Liwa al-Islam, has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement on Facebook that it “targeted the cell called the crisis control room in the capital of Damascus.”
Liwa al-Islam spokesman Qassim Saadedine confirmed the information by phone.
A rebel commander identified as Riyad al-Assad says the bomb was planted inside a room where senior government officials were meeting. However, he denied information suggesting that the deadly blast was a suicide bombing.
The bomber who detonated the explosive reportedly worked as a bodyguard for President Assad’s inner circle, Reuters cites its sources as saying.
The Free Syrian Army says it carried out the attack. FSA head Riyad al-Assad said he hoped it would be “the beginning of the end of the regime.”
“Hopefully Bashar will be next,” he was quoted by AP as saying.
The Syrian government put the blame for the “terrorist bomb attack” on “hired hands,” and pledged to pursue the perpetrators and wipe out their “criminal gangs,” state TV reported.
War correspondent Eric Margolis told RT that the explosion might have been an inside job, because such a gathering of high-profile officials would normally have the toughest security, making it impossible for a suicide bomber to infiltrate.
“There may have been explosives hidden there before the meeting,” he said. “I have covered a lot of these kind of explosions and it seems to me that the damage done, or that’s being reported, has far exceeded the damage that can be caused by one man carrying a suicide vest.”
Syrian security forces taking position during armed clashes with gunmen who the TV called “terrorists” (unseen) in the Al-Midan district of Damascus on July 18, 2012 (AFP Photo / HO / Syrian TV)
UN Syria resolution vote delayed
Damascus has already appointed a new defense minister, state TV reports. Gen. Fahad Jassim al-Freij, who was previously the chief of staff of the armed forces, will now assume the top cabinet post.
The violence comes ahead of a UN Security Council session which is tasked with deciding whether to prolong an observer mission in Syria before it expires on July 20. All members agree that the mission should continue its work, but differ on the wording of the resolution which would allow it happen.
However, following the killing of the Syrian officials, UN Security Council has postponed voting on an UN-backed Syria resolution until Thursday. It had been scheduled for a Wednesday vote.
Syrian Defence Minister, General Daoud Rajha, who was then the deputy commander of the Syrian armed forces,was killed in a bombing targeting the National Security headquarters in central Damascus, state television reported. (AFP Photo/Ho/SANA)
Assef Shawkat, brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Reuters/Khaled Al Hariri)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C), Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Daoud Rajha (R), and Chief of the General Staff, General Fahid al-Freij (L), attending a ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Damascus.