At 9 a.m. today, a blast hit the Mezze District of Damascus in war-torn Syria. The target was President Bashar Al Assad‘s hand-picked Prime Minister Wael al-Halki. Al-Halki survived, but six people were killed in the blast, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. One man accompanying Halki was killed while the rest of the victims were passers-by.
The bomb that targeted the prime minister’s convoy of vehicles is one in the latest in a series of rebel attacks on government targets, including a December bombing that wounded Assad’s interior minister. As stated by NBCnews, the Prime Minister wields little power in comparison to President al-Assad, but the attack highlighted the rebels’ growing ability to target symbols of Assad’s authority.
State television showed images of the charred and mangled remains of a car and a white bus with its window blown out and seats gutted by fire. Debris was seen scattered across the road. The Independent reports that a picture uploaded by opposition activists showed thick black smoke rising from the purported site of the explosion.
But violence, bombs and deaths aren’t an anomaly in Syria — which has been suffering from a two-year-long civil war that has killed 70,000 and sent millions into refugee camps.
Although Syria has been a protagonist in world news, recent discoveries of chemical weapons use during the country’s conflict has the international community particularly alarmed. If mass use of chemical weapons against rebel forces by Syria’s government is proven, President Al Assad could be looking at stronger pressure from international players, including the United States. Obama’s administration has repeatedly said that the use of chemical weapons would cross a metaphorical “red line” and would move U.S closer to military intervention.
Meanwhile, Syria continues to be entangled in a violent humanitarian crisis.