A suicide bomber killed at least three top aides to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Wednesday including the defense minister and Mr. Assad’s powerful brother-in-law, state television and opposition activists reported. The attack in Damascus, after three days of fighting in the capital, hit at the very military structure that has been directing the harsh repression of the 17-month-old uprising against Mr. Assad’s rule.
The assassinations were the first of such high-ranking members of the elite in the revolt and could represent a turning point in the conflict, analysts said. The nature and target of the attack strengthened the opposition’s claims that its forces have been marshaling strength to strike at the close-knit centers of state power.
President Assad made no public statement about the attack and his whereabouts was not immediately clear.
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