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      Senior Defense Officials Hold Emergency Talks on Syria

      The latest bombing targeting Syria's ruling elite has led defence officials to take a long, hard look at the security of Israel's north.
      By Gabe Kahn
      First Publish: 7/18/2012, 7:42 PM

      IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
      IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday met with senior military commanders to discuss the recent escalation of violence in Damascus. Barak is expected to brief Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on events in Syria later this evening.

      Earlier, a bombing in the Syrian capital struck the inner circle of embattled president Bashar al-Assad, leading to speculation that the violence rocking his crumbling regime could spill over into neighboring countries – including Israel.

      Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey have all reinforced their Syrian frontiers in recent months.

      IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz is expected to assemble the entire General Staff on Wednesday to evaluate the security of Israel's northern border.

      Wednesday's blast killed the Syrian defense minister Daud Abdullah Rag'ihh, Assad's right hand man, and former Defense Minister Hasan Turkmen. According to other reports, the head of the Investigations Department Syrian General Intelligence apparatus, Hafez Makhlouf, was also killed in the bombing.

      According to the report, the terrorist responsible for the bombing was employed as one of Assad's bodyguards. He is said to have escaped alive.

      Two Syrian insurgent groups claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks.

      Shortly thereafter another attack took place in Damascus: five explosions were heard at Fourth Division headquarters of the Syrian army, the elite unit under the command of Assad's brother.

      UN officials say over 12,000 people – mostly civilians – have been killed in th 16-month popular uprising turned civil war against Assad's regime.