September 27, 2008


Syria: 17 killed, 14 wounded in car bomb explosion in Damascus (ALBERT AJI and BASSEM MROUE, 9/27/08, Associated Press)

The explosion knocked down part of a 13-foot high wall surrounding a security complex that houses several buildings in the Sidi Kadad area. Hours after the morning explosion, traffic returned to normal on the highway, but dozens of plainclothes Syrian police lined the road. [...]

Saturday's bombing is the deadliest in more than decade. On New Year's Eve 1997, a bomb went off aboard a public bus in Damascus, killing 12 people and wounding dozens. Syria blamed Israel for the bombing, though Israel denied the charge.

The last major explosion to strike Damascus was in February when a car bomb killed the commander of Lebanon's Shiite militant Hezbollah group, Imad Mughniyeh. Hezbollah and its top ally, Iran, blamed Israel for the assassination, but Israel denied any involvement.

Last month, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Suleiman, a senior military officer close to President Bashar Assad, was assassinated by a sniper on a yacht at a beach resort in the northern port city of Tartous.

Syria has long been on Washington's list of states supporting terrorism, and the Bush administration has sought to isolate the Assad regime for its support of Hezbollah guerrillas and radical Palestinian groups. Its attempts intensified after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, which many in Lebanon blame on Syria. Damascus has denied involvement.

Syria also has long been accused of allowing Muslim militants to use its territory to cross into Iraq, where they take part in attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Syria's nuclear liaison killed (JTA, 09/26/2008)
"The reason that Syria has been late in providing additional information (is) that our interlocutor has been assassinated in Syria," Mohammed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the IAEA board in a meeting Thursday, according to a recording obtained by the French news agency.

ElBaradei did not name the liaison, but AFP speculated that he might be Mohammed Sleiman, the chief of security for Syrian President Bashar Assad and the country's liaison with the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon. He was assassinated last month.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2008 6:45 PM
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