Bomb rocks Syrian state TV HQ

Prime minister fired less than 2 months after taking post

A bomb blast rocked the headquarters of Syrian state television in the heart of Damascus on Monday wounding several people, Information Minister Omran Al Zoabi said.

The blast hit management offices on the third floor of the building in the heavily protected Omayyad district of the capital.

"It is clear that the blast was caused by an explosive device," Zoabi said. "Several of our colleagues were injured, but there were no serious injuries, and no dead."

The channel remained on the air but an AFP correspondent reported that firefighting vehicles were parked outside the building and that one of the access roads to Omayyad Square was blocked off.

Pro-government television channel Al-Ikhbariya, which was itself the target of a deadly attack claimed by the rebel Free Syrian Army in June, broadcast footage of Zoabi inspecting the building's third floor.

The walls were visibly damaged, water pipes broken, and electric cables hung down from the ceiling. Blood could also be seen on some of the furniture. The broadcaster showed volunteers evacuating a wounded man.

"Syria's television is being targeted because of its bravery," Zoabi said. "But nothing will stop the voice of Syria."

On June 27, gunmen armed with explosives attacked the Al-Ikhbariya offices outside Damascus killing three journalists and four security guards.

On Saturday, rebel fighters attacked the state television building in Syria's second city, Aleppo.

The same day, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that state television presenter Mohammed al-Saeed had been executed following an abduction claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front.

Posted on a forum featuring the Al-Qaeda flag, Al-Nusra's statement showed a photograph of Saeed looking frightened with his back against a wall in an unknown location.

"May this be a lesson to all those who support the regime," it said.

PM fired less than 2 months after taking post

Syria's state-run TV says the country's prime minister has been fired less than two months after taking up his post.

Riad Hijab is a former agriculture minister and a loyalist in President Bashar Assad's ruling Baath party.

He was appointed as prime minister on June 23. The TV did not immediately give a reason why Hijab was dismissed from his post Monday. It says Omar Ghalawanji, Hijab's deputy prime minister, was named as a temporary replacement.

Another Syrian general defects to Turkey

Another Syrian brigadier general has fled to Turkey to join opposition fighters, accompanied by five high-ranking officers and more than 30 troops, Anatolia reported Monday.

Some 400 Syrian civilians, most of them women and children, also arrived in the company of the soldiers, the agency added.

The latest defection brings the total number of Syrian generals who have left Syria through the Turkish border to 31 since the uprising erupted in mid-March last year.

But some of these generals have gone back to Syria to join the active fighters inside the conflict-torn country, a Turkish official told AFP, refusing to give an exact number of Syrian generals currently on Turkish soil.

Senior Syrian officers have been crossing into Turkey to link up with the Free Syrian Army on a near-daily basis in recent months, often accompanied by rank-and-file troops.

With the latest arrivals, Turkey has so far welcomed some 46,500 refugees fleeing from the violence in Syria, who are sheltering in several camps along the border.

The Syrian military defectors are staying in a separate camp where security is tighter.


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