Damascus Blast Shows Escalating Situation in Syria

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Three top Syrian regime officials were killed in a suicide bombing in central Damascus Wednesday, according to Syria's state-run TV.

Gen. Daoud Rajiha was Syria's defense minister and a Christian. Assef Shawkat was a brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad and the chief architect of the government crackdown on the opposition.

The men, along with a high-ranking Syrian general, were killed in what was arguably the deadliest attack on government officials since violence in the country began 16 months ago.

CBN News Senior International Correspondent Gary Lane is traveling in the region.

"Damascus has always been a bit of a fortress. The war has been mostly outside of Damascus, but this shows that it's now being brought to Damascus the capital and that brings it to a new level," Lane explained.

Click play to watch George Thomas' updated report followed by comments from Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, on how Syria's Christians are coping as violence rises.

Syria's interior minister and the head of national security were among those seriously wounded. A group calling themselves "The Brigade of Islam," took responsibility for the suicide assault on the heavily guarded National Security headquarters in Damascus.

The brazen attack came as gun battles between the Free Syrian Army and government forces raged in the capital for a third straight day.

The situation in Damascus is getting so bad that Iraqis have also started to flee. Thousands of them, mostly Christians, fled to Syria to escape sectarian fighting in their own homeland.

Now, the Iraqi government has called on those citizens who left for Syria to return home because of the escalating violence there.

"We came back from Syria because the security situation is deteriorating. I was worried about the security of my family," Iraqi resident Mohamed Jabber said.

But coming home to Iraq isn't a safe bet either.

"Shiites and Sunnis are still bombing one another and fighting there, so where can these Iraqi Christians go?" Lane said.

And while the Iraqis flee for their lives, foreign fighters are moving into the country practically every day to fight the Syrian army. One group of snipers recently set up positions near Homs.

"There are 10 other existing cells that will be joining this cell," a Syrian sniper named Oman said. "We founded this cell to support the youth fighters and to feel their pain and to experience what they are experiencing on the ground and to help with the operations."

Some 16,000 people have died since the uprising began in March 2011.

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CBN News
George Thomas

George Thomas

CBN News Sr. Reporter

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