Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Assad regime is falling apart

Syria roundup:

Syria’s state TV said the country’s minister of defense, General Daoud Rajha, and Assad’s brother-in-law have been killed in a suicide attack in Damascus on Wednesday, as raging battles across the capital upped the stakes ahead of a Security Council vote on the Syria crisis.

President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, is also the deputy minister of defense, was initially transferred to the hospital and was in a critical condition.

The television said interior minister, Mohammed al-Shaar, was still alive and in a “stable condition,” after Arab TV stations reported his death.

Meanwhile, the Syrian intelligence chief, Hisham Bekhtyar, was undergoing a surgery after being wounded in the bombing, security sources told Reuters.

Security officials told AFP that several other participants in a top-level meeting were wounded in the blast and taken to al-Shami hospital in the capital for treatment.

Suicide bomber worked as bodyguard for president Assad’s inner circle, Syrian security source told Reuters.

More than 60 soldiers have been killed in clashes with the rebel Free Syrian Army in Damascus in the past 48 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

“Between 40 and 50 soldiers of the regular Syrian forces were killed the day before yesterday (Monday) in fighting in Damascus, and at least 20 were killed yesterday,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Two Syrian brigadier generals crossed into Turkey overnight, a Turkish foreign ministry official told AFP Wednesday.

"Some 330 Syrians including two brigadier generals fled to Turkey Tuesday night," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official also said that nearly 43,300 Syrian refugees were now living in camps near the border with Syria.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of Syrians arriving in Turkey, whether they are civilians or military,” he added.

On Monday, a Syrian general and several soldiers crossed into the Turkish side of the border.

The United Nations said the number of Syrian refugees who have sought help from it since April has almost tripled to 112,000, according to The Associated Press.

The U.N. refugee agency said women and children make up three-quarters of the Syrians who it has registered or assisted in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said Tuesday in Geneva that the actual number is probably “significantly higher” and that many Syrian refugees are completely dependent on humanitarian aid.

Edwards said that Jordan has seen 33,400 Syrian refugees, while 30,900 have arrived in Lebanon. Another 7,900 have sought sanctuary in Iraq.

Also, Jordan taking steps concerning possible chemical attack from Syria.

(h/t Yoel)