A suicide bomber killed three high-ranking members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government on Wednesday, including the defense minister and Assad’s brother-in-law, who was deputy chief of staff of the military.

Analysts say the opposition’s ability to strike and kill at the center of the Syrian government’s power could represent a turning point in the conflict.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

The New York Times:

… The nature and target of the attack strengthened the opposition’s claims that its forces have been marshaling strength to strike at the close-knit centers of state power.

President Assad made no public statement about the attack and his whereabouts was not immediately clear.

According to state television, the dead included the defense minister, Daoud Rajha; Asef Shawkat, the president’s brother-in-law who was the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military; and Hassan Turkmani, a former minister of defense and military adviser to Vice President Farouk Sharaa.

But the television report rejected claims by activists that the minister of the interior also was killed, saying he was in stable condition.

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