Syrian Security Chief Dead, Violence Rages In Damascus
Created: 2012-07-20 12:37 EST
Burned cars and buildings in the al-Midan area in Damascus show some results of the violence. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GettyImages)
The head of Syria's National Security intelligence agency, Hisham Bakhtyar, has died from wounds sustained in Wednesday's bombing, which also killed three other members of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle.
Syrian state television reported the death Friday morning, as funerals were held for the other three senior security officials killed in the explosion: Assad's brother-in-law, the defense minister, and the vice-president's military advisor.
Wednesday's bomb attack at the National Security headquarters in the capital of Damascus is by far the worst blow suffered by the regime during the 16 month uprising, and the ability of the Free Syrian Army to target such key political figures is seen by many analysts as a turning point in the conflict.
Violence continues to sweep across Damascus as the Syrian regime reacts heavily to the devastating attack, with the military shelling residential areas and helicopters being used to counter rebel forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, documented over 300 deaths on Thursday, making it the deadliest single day since the uprising began.
The Free Syrian Army has responded to the onslaught by pulling out of the Midan area of the capital city.
On Thursday, the Chinese regime and Russia jointly vetoed a UN resolution on Syria. The resolution, drafted by Britain and co-sponsored by the US, France and Germany, called for sanctions against the Syrian regime, including the use of military force if necessary.
China and Russia received immediate heavy criticism for the veto, with British Foreign Secretary William Hague stating: “The decision by Russia and China, in the view of the United Kingdom, to veto this resolution is inexcusable and indefensible. When it came to the time to turn agreements, which they have supported, into action to end the violence, they stood aside from that. They have turned their back on the people of Syria in their darkest hour.”