In a sign that the rebels are able to act with impunity in the capital city of Damascus, the Syrian prime minister narrowly escaped a bomb targeting his convoy.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus on Monday, state media and activists said, as rebels struck in the heart of President Bashar al-Assad's capital.
Six people were killed in the blast, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, the latest in a series of rebel attacks on government targets including a December bombing which wounded Assad's interior minister.
Halki wields little power but the attack highlighted the rebels' growing ability to target symbols of Assad's authority in a civil war which has cost more than 70,000 lives, according to the United Nations.
Assad picked Halki in August to replace Riyadh Hijab, who defected and escaped to neighboring Jordan just weeks after a Damascus bombing which killed four of the president's top security advisers.
In comments released by the state news agency SANA but not shown on television, Halki was quoted as condemning the attack as a sign of "bankruptcy and failure of the terrorist groups", a reference to the rebels battling to overthrow Assad.
The blast shook the Mezze district soon after 9 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) and sent thick black smoke into the sky. The Observatory said one man accompanying Halki was killed as well as five passers-by.
If the end is drawing near for Assad, the West better get ready to move in and secure the regime's chemical weapons stockpile. The Israelis believe that Hezb'allah is already getting a "trickle" of chemical weapons and an al-Qaeda backed militia is fighting the Syrian army for control of a chemical plant where the precursors of chemical weapons are manufactured.
Neither scenario is acceptable, but it seems unlikely that we or our allies will do much to stop it.