- Beretta leaves Maryland over gun laws, heads for Tennessee
- Neal Boortz defends Hillary Clinton for representing child rapist
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
Syria’s prime minister escapes bomb attack
Question of the Day
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria’s prime minister escaped an assassination attempt Monday when a bomb went off near his convoy in Damascus, state media reported, the latest attack targeting a top official in President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi was unhurt in the bombing in the capital’s western neighborhood of Mazzeh, state TV said. The TV showed footage of heavily damaged cars and debris in the area of the blast as firefighters fought to extinguish a large blaze caused by the explosion.
The daring attack in the upscale neighborhood, which is home to many embassies and officials, was another blow to the government, exposing its vulnerability in the very seat of Assad’s powerbase.
A Syrian government official told The Associated Press that an improvised explosive device was placed under a car that was parked in the area and was detonated as al-Halqi’s car drove by. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The state-run Al-Ikhbariya station said al-Halqi went into a regular weekly meeting with an economic committee straight after the bombing and showed him sitting around a table in a room with several other officials.
The TV said it was showing the video as a proof that al-Halqi was not hurt. But the prime minister’s comments after the meeting did not refer to Monday’s blast and he was not asked about it by reporters, leaving doubts as to whether the footage was filmed before or after the bombing.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast killed al-Halqi’s bodyguard and that one of his drivers was in critical condition. The group relies on a network of activist around the country.
Monday’s bombing also showed that anti-government elements in Syria are becoming increasingly brazen, striking in a highly secure Damascus neighborhood, only about 100 meters (yards) from the residence of the Swiss ambassador. Mazzeh is also home to a major military air base and top officials live in the posh district.
The attack was not the first targeting a high official in the Syrian capital over the past year.
On July 18, a blast at the Syrian national security building in Damascus during a meeting of Cabinet ministers killed the defense minister and his deputy, who was President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law. That attack also wounded the interior minister.
In December, a car bomb targeted the Interior Ministry in Damascus, killing several people and wounding more than 20, including Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar. Initially, Syrian state media said al-Shaar was not hurt in the Dec. 12 blast. News of his injuries emerged a week later, after he was brought to neighboring Lebanon for treatment of a serious back injury.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s attack.
Massive bombings like the one that struck the prime minister’s convoy have been a trademark of Islamic radicals fighting alongside the Syrian rebels, raising concerns about the extremists’ role in Syria’s civil war.
Al-Halqi, a senior member of Assad’s ruling Baath party, took office last year after his predecessor, Riad Hijab, defected to Jordan. Al-Halqi was Syria’s health minister before taking the post. He is a member of Assad’s ruling Baath party and hails from the southern city of Daraa, the birthplace of the Syrian uprising.
TWT Video Picks
The president could pay the full price for ignoring Congress
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- 'Straight White Guy Festival' supposedly set for Ohio park
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant, slams Obama's handling of Iraq
- Pentagon team dispatched to Ukraine amid crisis with Russia
- BERMAN & MADYOON: An Iranian-Turkish reset
- MAY: Barbarians at Jordan's gate
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq