BEIRUT - Syria's rebel commander says his forces carried out an attack in Damascus that killed the defense minister and other regime officials, but denies it was a suicide bombing.
Riad al-Asaad said in a phone interview from his headquarters in Turkey that rebel forces planted a bomb inside a room where senior government officials were meeting Wednesday.
Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha and his deputy Gen. Assef Shawkat, who also was President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law, were killed.
An authority with direct knowledge of the situation also says Hassan Turkmani, a former Syrian defense minister, was killed.
The rebel leader denies government claims that it was a suicide attack, saying all those who carried out the operation are safe.
He said the attack marked "the beginning of the end of the regime."
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