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Syrian rebels say they carried out the bombing that killed the country’s defense minister and his deputy Wednesday. The defense minister is the most senior regime official to be killed in the uprising, but the killing of the deputy defense minister, Assef Shawkat, may be even more significant. Shawkat was married to President Bashar Al-Assad’s sister and had previously led the country’s feared military intelligence operation.
The bomb that killed the men exploded during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and top security officers in the heart of the capital, Damascus. Analysts say the success of the bombing suggests that rebels have high level allies within the regime, because the operation required the rebels to know when the meeting was taking place and to be able to penetrate one of the country’s most secure buildings.