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Architect Of Crackdown In Syria And Defense Minister Killed In Bombing

The uprising in Syria against the regime of President Bashar Assad took a dramatic turn today when an explosion at a government building in Damascus killed the country's defense minister and a brother-in-law of the president.

Syrian state TV, which is reporting the deaths, has blamed a suicide bomber. There have been at least two claims of responsiblity from groups opposed to the Assad regime. There are also reports that the bomber was a member of the Assad inner circle's security team.

After first announcing the death of Defense Minister Gen. Dawoud Rajha, state TV followed around 7:30 a.m. ET with word that Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Assef Shawkat, the husband of Assad's elder sister, also died.

The Guardian reports that Syrian activist Shakeeb al-Jabri, who posts messages on Twitter as @LeShaque, warns there will be a "massive retaliation" from the Assad regime.

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