Damascus, Syria — Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki reportedly survived an assassination attempt on his convoy today.
A car bomb apparently targeted his convoy at about 9 am local time in the presumed secure Mezzeh district in southwest Damascus, an area in the country’s capital where many high-level government officials live, including President Assad, as well as the neighborhood were foreign embassies are situated. “State television showed firemen hosing down the charred and mangled remains of a car. Close by was a large white bus, its windows blown out and its seats gutted by fire. Glass and debris were scattered across several lanes of a main road.”
The prime minister was apparently unhurt in the assassination attempt — described by the government as a terrorist explosion — on his motorcade, but reports differ as to casualties among his entourage. “The state news agency said one person was killed and several were wounded in the blast. Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said the explosion killed five, including two of al-Halqi’s bodyguards and one of the drivers in his convoy.”
Rebels fighting the Assad regime used this attack to apparently send a message in what is considered a heavily guarded area: “The daring attack in the upscale neighborhood … was another blow to the Assad regime, exposing its vulnerability in the very heart of his power base.”
About two weeks, assassins gunned down a government official while he sat eating in an restaurant in the Mezzeh district. Last July, a bomb attack on a government installation killed the Syrian defense minister and his deputy.
Syria is believed to have used chemical weapons against the rebels. The death toll in the civil war waged over the past two years is estimated to be about 700,000.