The Free Syrian Army (FSA) claimed responsibility for the bombing of the national security headquarters in Damascus that killed at least three top regime officials, the defense minister Daoud Rajha, deputy defense Minister Assef Shawkat, and General Hassan Turkmani, head of the crisis unit set up to quell the revolt.
Assistant vice president and interior minister General Mohammad Ibrahim Shaar also was killed in the bombing according to a report by al Arabiya news. Officially, SANA news agency claimed that Shaar is still alive.
Meanwhile, there are no confirmed reports about the fate of the man who heads the National Security, General Hisham Ikhtiar. He is considered a key man of the repression by the regime.
The FSA claimed in a video released on Wednesday that it was "the first of a series of major operations to bring down Assad and all the pillars and symbols of the regime." The video is in Arabic language.
The rebels reiterated that those "who do not have blood on their hands" have a chance until late July to defect from the Assad regime or else they will be punished in the suitable way.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), said the death of Shawkat is a "severe blow to the regime because he assumed the leading role in the operations to crush the revolution. The regime is now as dangerous as a wounded wolf."
However, there were conflicting reports about the modus operandi of the attack. At first, a security source said the bodyguard of a participant in the meeting had detonated his explosive belt. A second story spoke of a briefcase full of explosives brought by a bodyguard who managed to leave the room and then to activate the bomb, according to AFP news.
On the ground, fighting continues on the outskirts of Syria’s capital Damascus. Eyewitnesses say the streets are empty following yesterday’s clashes between government troops and Free Syrian Army fighters in which, at least 214 people including 124 civilians, 62 regime soldiers and 28 rebels died, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.
The regime forces has pounded parts of Qaboune and Barzé in Damascus, and helicopters strafed those of Jobar, Hajar al-Aswad and Kafar Sousse. Fighting between rebels and army continued in the neighborhoods of Midane and Kafar Sousse.
The U.N. Security Council will meet on Thursday to vote on a new Western-proposed resolution calling for foreign military intervention in Syria.
Russia has made it clear it would veto this resolution and several diplomats expect China to do the same. Both countries had twice blocked Security Council resolutions, to protect their Syrian ally, since the conflict began in mid- March 2011.
The situation in Syria is still so critical. News reports are complicating efforts to determine the location of the Syrian president. However, other news states that Assad's brother, Maher al-Assad has been wounded in the bombing and Russian doctors were brought to Syria so as to treat his wounds. Some other sources confirm that large number of officers from the republican guards have fled, which means that the coming hours might carry many surprises related to the fall of Assad's regime.