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Suicide Bomber Kills Syria’s Defence Minister and His Deputy

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A suicide attack Wednesday which struck at the heart of Syria’s security apparatus killed defence minister General Daoud Rajha and President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, state media said.

The bombing, which for the first time in a 16-month anti-regime uprising managed to strike at Assad’s inner core, adds urgency to aUN Security Council debate on Syrian sanctions later on Wednesday, when a showdown between Western powers and Russia and China is expected.

Officials said the bomber struck as ministers and security officials were meeting at the heavily guarded National Securityheadquarters in Damascus.

Interior minister Mohammed al-Shaar and General Hisham Ikhtiyar, head of National Security, were among those listed as wounded in the bombing, which came on the fourth day of an offensive launched by rebels to capture Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called Shawkat’s death “a severe blow to the Syrian regime since he played the main role in operations by regular forces to crush the revolution.”

Syria’s army said after the bombing it would “continue fighting terrorism.”

“The terrorist act increases the armed forces’ determination to clean the country of terrorist groups,” it said in a statement.

Rajha, a Christian, was defence minister, deputy army chief and deputy head of the Council of Ministers. Assad himself is overall commander of the military.

Shawkat was deputy defence minister and a former military intelligence chief.

The National Security branch — a linchpin of Syria’s security apparatus — is headed by General Hisham Ikhtiyar, who was also wounded in Wednesday’s blast.

The brazen attack on regime insiders came as battles raged across Damascus and after the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — comprising defected soldiers and civilians who have taken up arms against Assad’s forces — warned the government to “expect surprises.”

Columns of black smoke rose over the capital, with the Local Coordination Committees, which organises anti-regime protests on the ground, reporting that Qaboon and Barzeh neighbourhoods were bombarded by loyalist forces.

It also said there was less traffic than normal in the city where fighting has raged since Sunday, with the rebels announcing a full-scale offensive dubbed “the Damascus volcano and earthquakes of Syria.”

Regime forces and the FSA clashed in the Al-Midan and Zahira districts of Damascus as well as at Assali south of the city, the LCC said.

Rebel forces on Tuesday said the battle to “liberate” Damascus had begun, as heavy fighting raged with the regime using helicopter gunships in the capital for the first time.

As the fighting inched closer to the regime’s nerve centre, FSA spokesman Colonel Kassem Saadeddine said “victory is nigh” and the struggle would go on until the city was conquered.

“We have transferred the battle from Damascus province to the capital. We have a clear plan to control the whole of Damascus. We only have light weapons, but it’s enough.”

“Expect surprises,” Saadeddine added.

-AFP via Yahoo

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JUST IN: ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions On Mali

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ECOWAS countries
ECOWAS Countries

ECOWAS Countries

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US President, Donald Trump, Wife Test Positive For Covid-19

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Donald Trump and Melania
Donald Trump and Melania

Donald Trump and wife, Melania Trump

President of the United States, Donald Trump, and his wife, Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19.

The President took to his official Twitter handle on Friday to make this announcement.

Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon, returning to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey.

Also Read: What I Told Trump When He Accused Me Of Killing Christians – Buhari

On Thursday, he announced that his aide, Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus which has killed over 1 million people around the world.

He further revealed that he and the first lady had taken the test and waiting for the results before announcing the outcome on Friday.

 

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Mali: N’Daw, Coup Leader Goita Sworn In As President, VP

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President of Mali, N'Daw, coup leader, Goita
President of Mali, N'Daw, coup leader, Goita

President of Mali, N’Daw, coup leader, Goita

Retired Army Colonel, Bah N’Daw has been sworn in on Friday as the interim president of Mali and he is to head a transitional government following last month’s military coup in the country.

The swearing-in ceremony held in the country’s capital city of Bamako, where Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.

This administration is to lead the government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.

Also Read: Buhari Attends Virtual ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit Over Mali Crisis

It will be recalled that the country’s military executed a coup last month (August 18) which successfully removed the nation’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from office.

Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, attended the ceremony alongside other members of the ECOWAS mediation team.

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