A rebel attack on the Damascus police headquarters on Thursday left dozens of security personnel and militiamen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad dead or wounded, an opposition activist told Reuters.
Rebels armed with AK-47s, small machineguns and explosive devices cut off two main roads leading to the complex in the central Qanawat district and attacked it, he said.
“Three patrol cars came to the site and were hit by roadside bombs near Bab Sreijeh. I saw three bodies in one car. Others said dozens of security men and shabbiha (Assad militia) lay dead or wounded along Khaled bin al-Walid street before ambulances took them away,” the activist, Abu Rateb, told Reuters.
“The headquarters is blackened and it looks abandoned,” he added.
Other opposition activists in Damascus said rebels had managed to blast their way into the heavily fortified complex and seize weapons before withdrawing following a one-hour firefight.
The latest attack comes just one day after three senior members of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the National Security Building in Damascus.
The explosion killed Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha; Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, Assad's brother-in-law; Hasan Turkmani, Assad's security adviser and assistant vice president; and Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar.
Syrian army defectors and rebel commanders later said they believed the attack would hasten the end of Assad's rule.
As the violence in Syria continued, Russia and China vetoed on Thursday a resolution in the UN Security Council that threatened Syrian authorities with sanctions, if they did not withdraw troops from towns and cities and cease using heavy weapons in a crackdown on a popular uprising against Assad.
It was the third time that Russia – which has billions of dollars tied to Assad's survival – and China have used their veto power to block UN Security Council resolutions targeting the Syrian regime.