Assad moves forces from Golan to suppress violence

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Syria’s defense minster and several other government officials were killed or hurt by a suicide bomber in Damascus, a day after Israel’s army intelligence chief said President Bashar al-Assad had moved troops from the Golan Heights to the capital.

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Also killed in Wednesday’s blast was Assad’s brother-in-law, who was Syria’s deputy defense minister. The bomber, who struck during a meeting of government and security heads, reportedly was a bodyguard. 

The blast comes after four days of clashes in Damascus between government troops and anti-government activists.

“Assad has removed many of his forces that were in the Golan Heights to the areas of conflict (inside Syria),” Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi told a Knesset committee Tuesday, according to news services briefed by a Knesset spokesman. “He’s not afraid of Israel at this point, but mainly wants to augment his forces around Damascus.”
 

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