As more details of this morning’s bombing in Damascus are known, the casualty list is growing. Among those killed were Syria’s Defense Minister, Deputy Defense Minister (who was President Bashir’s brother-in-law), and a senior general who was also a former Defense Minister. The head of the National Security Office and the Interior Minister were among those seriously wounded.
In an early afternoon story, the Associated Press quoted U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying that the crisis in Syria is "rapidly spinning out of control.” British Defense Minister Philip Hammond, who spoke at a press conference with Panetta, said the Assad government is suffering "probably some fragmentation around the edges" as it struggles to keep a grip on power. "There is a sense that the situation is deteriorating and is becoming more and more unpredictable," Hammond said.
A later AP report noted:
"Rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they had been planning it for two months and finally decided to plant the bomb in the room where the top government security officials in charge of crushing the revolt were holding a crisis meeting."
Reuters reported this afternoon on the continuing violence:
"The government vowed to retaliate, and residents said army helicopters fired machine guns and in some cases rockets at several residential districts. Television footage showed rebels storming a security base in southern Damascus. By nightfall, activists said Syrian army artillery had begun shelling the capital from the mountains that overlook it."
As the violence escalates, let us pray for a peaceful resolution in Syria, especially for the civilians caught between the two forces.