Suicide bombing hits Syrian capital in possible assassination attempt against Syrian general


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DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian soldiers battled a small group of insurgents, including a suicide bomber, who attacked a Syrian military logistics facility in the capital Monday, militants and activists said.

The relatively rare Damascus attack took place in the Rukneddine neighborhood and was claimed by the al-Qaida branch in Syria. Syrian state media said all the militants were killed, but provided no further details.

The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, said the bombing appeared to target a general who is responsible for army logistics and supplies. He said the general was wounded in the blast, while three of his guards were killed in the ensuing clashes with the militant attackers.

The Observatory relies on a network of activists inside Syria for its information.

The al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front posted a claim of responsibility on a Twitter account associated with the group, saying three of the group's fighters were involved.

Syrian state television later broadcast video of what it said was the scene of the attack, showing the bodies of two men dressed in camouflage sprawled in the street. The legs of the suicide bomber were visible on the pavement nearby.

Attacks such as Monday's have been rare in the capital, which remains under the firm grip of President Bashar Assad.

Elsewhere, heavy fighting erupted in a mountainous area near the Lebanese border Monday after the Nusra Front launched a surprise attack targeting Syrian army and Hezbollah positions there. A Lebanese security official, speaking on condition of anonymity according to regulations, said Syrian warplanes launched a series of airstrikes on suspected militant positions in the Qalamoun region that reverberated across the Lebanese border.

Al-Manar TV, run by Lebanon's Hezbollah group which supports the Syrian government, reported later that at least 20 militants were killed and 50 injured as Syrian warplanes repelled their attack.

A major battle has been widely anticipated in the area, pitting Hezbollah and the Syrian army against militants belonging to the Nusra Front and the Islamic State group entrenched there.

Associated Press writers Ryan Lucas and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.

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