BEIRUT —  Syrian rebels bombed the house  of a top member of the country’s ruling Baath party in the south on Thursday,  killing him and his three body guards, activists said.

The bombing took place in Daraa, where the uprising against President Bashar  Assad began in March 2011. Since then, rebels have targeted regime figures and  military commanders in the capital, Damascus, and in other places around the  country.

The increasing frequency of bombings, a hallmark of Islamic extremists like  Al Qaeda, has led to concerns about the growing role of Islamist militants in  the civil war.

Two US-based Internet-monitoring companies say Syria has shut off the  Internet nationwide.

Activists in Syria reached Thursday by satellite telephone confirmed the  unprecedented blackout, which comes amid intense fighting in the capital,  Damascus.

Renesys, a U.S.-based network security firm that studies Internet  disruptions, says Syria effectively disappeared from the Internet at 12:26 p.m.  local time.

Akamai Technologies Inc., another U.S-based company that distributes content  on the Internet, also confirmed a complete outage for Syria.

Syria has partially cut Internet connections during the 20-month uprising  against President Bashar Assad but a nationwide shutdown is unprecedented.

Early Thursday, rebels detonated a car bomb near the house of Hussein Rifai  in Daraa, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, killing  Rifai and his bodyguards. The Observatory relies on reports from activists on  the ground.

Syria state-run SANA news agency reported the bombing in Daraa. It said there  were casualties in the blast, but did not say if Rafai was among those  killed.

The bombing in Daraa came a day after twin suicide car bombs ripped through a  Damascus suburb minutes apart, killing at least 34 people and wounding more than  80 others.

Damascus, the seat of Assad’s power, has been the scene of scores of car  bombs and mortar attacks targeting state security institutions and troops, areas  with homes of wealthy Syrians, army officers, security officials and other  members of the regime.

In May, two suicide car bombers blew themselves up outside a military  intelligence building in Damascus, killing at least 55 people. In July, a bomb  hit a building in which Cabinet ministers and senior security officials were  meeting, killing the defense minister and his deputy, who was Assad’s  brother-in-law. A former defense minister also died in the attack.

The revolt in Syria started as peaceful protests but turned into a civil war  after brutal crackdowns on dissent by Assad’s forces. Activists say more than  40,000 people have been killed.

Also Thursday, activists reported heavy fighting between rebels and regime  troops in the northern Idlib province.

Government warplanes struck the rebellious districts around Damascus,  including the suburb of Daraya where fighting has raged for days, as rebels  fight their way into the capital, the Observatory said.

Daraya, which has a population of about 200,000, is part of Rural Damascus, a  province that includes the capital’s suburbs and adjoining farmland. The area  has been a stronghold of support for the rebels since the start of the uprising,  posing a significant threat to Assad.

Source: Fox News


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