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July 19, 2012 (TSR) - The attack took place on Wednesday at the National Security building in the district of Rawda, where government ministers and a number of security officials gave vehement reactions from Venezuela, Russia and Iran.
The terrorist blast happened during a top level meeting was attended by many high- profile figures, who are responsible for working out solutions to the crisis. 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 Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar and Maher al-Assad, the president’s younger brother and the commander of the Syrian Army’s elite Fourth Armored Division, were 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.
Venezuela reacts strongly against terrorism
Venezuela on Thursday strongly condemned the terrorist attack which took place in Damascus, reiterating warning of foreign intervention in Syria’s affairs.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in a statement that the Venezuelan government and people strongly condemn the terrorist attack that targeted the National Security building, calling on the international community to evade any military intervention that would further deepen the crisis in Syria.
President Chavez reiterated in the statement issued by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry solidarity with President Bashar al-Assad in confronting the conspiracy against Syria.
He expressed hope that Syria, leadership and people will be able to confront this violent campaign and the terrorist massacres facing it.
“The Venezuelan government expresses deepest condolences to the Syrian people and particularly the families of the victims of this heinous crime,” said the statement.
Russia vehemently condemns
Russia on Wednesday condemned the terrorist explosion which hit the National Security HQ in Damascus.
“Moscow vehemently 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.
Syrian 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 were killed on Wednesday in a terrorist explosion targeting the National Security headquarters in Damascus.
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.
Rajiha was born in 1947 in Damascus, and graduated from the Military Academy in 1968, specializing 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.
General Asef Shawkat
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.
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.
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, appointed as Deputy- Chief of Staff in 1982, then as Chief of Staff in 2002 and Defense Minister since 2004 till 2009.
He was appointed as Assistant Vice President on June, 3rd 2009.
The Culprit was a bodyguard?
The circumstances of the blast remain murky, as the state-TV said it was a suicide bombing while the broad-based opposition said the blast was controlled remotely, by an insider who planted the explosives inside the building and detonated it remotely.
According to RT, the culprit was a bodyguard, a suicide bombing assignment, which is the only thing that makes sense since the blast occurred in a traditionally safe and calm upscale neighborhood where many government buildings are located.
Right after the blast, security and army forces beefed up presence and fanned out around the area. The area around the national security building in the Rawda district has been cordoned off.
In a statement carried by the state-TV, the ministry pledged to eradicate the armed groups and their hideouts, adding that the recent attack will only strengthen the forces’ resolution to eliminate the terrorists across the country.
The leader of the rebel Free Syrian Army, defected Col. Riad Asaad, claimed responsibility for the attack and said his militia will carry on more attacks.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Omran Zoubi said the morale of the Syrian army is high, refuting media claims circulated on Arab TV which said that the spirit of the Syrian army is low and that many defections have happened after the blast.
He said that Syria is capable of retaliation, adding that what happened is the work of the countries which support the armed groups in Syria with money and arms. Just a couple of hours after the blast, a new defense minister was appointed by Assad.
As night started to fall, almost all the shops of the capital closed their shutters and the city appeared deserted except for the sounds of firefights and the hovering helicopter gunships, which have been apparently taking part in the wide-scale offensive the government has launched to regain control of rebellious neighborhoods and suburbs of Damascus.
The capital has been witnessing a surge in clashes between the government troops and the armed rebels since Sunday.
The rebel Free Syria Army said the “greater battle” of Damascus has already begun and they have used a new tactic to launch a number of simultaneous attacks in many areas and reportedly set tires ablaze to distract the Syrian army’s attention.
Witnesses said heavy clashes took place in the areas of Kafr Souseh, Midan, Tadamun, Nahr Aisha and others.The intensity of the clashes have disturbed the nights of the capital, which has been bustling with people roaming its streets till dawn.
U.S. Solution, Russia defies: Sanctions, Sanctions, Sanctions
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday the situation in Syria was fast “spinning out of control,” and called for more international pressure on Damascus.
The United States imposed sanctions against 29 senior Syrian officials on Wednesday. Syria’s ministers of finance, justice and health and the governor of the central bank were among these officials targeted by the U.S. Department of Treasury.