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Syria buries murdered defence chiefs

Syria buries murdered defence chiefs
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Despite an escalation in fighting, funeral ceremonies for three of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle, killed in Wednesday’s attack on the National Security Building, have been going ahead.

A joint ceremony for Assad’s brother-in-law, Deputy Defence Minister Assef Shawkat, Defence Minister General Daoud Rajha and veteran army general, Hassan Turkmani, was held at a military monument in the capital, Damascus.

This came as it emerged intelligence chief Hisham Bekhtyar had died of wounds sustained in the blast.

Also on Friday, Russia’s ambassador to France said Assad had accepted he would have to leave power – comments swiftly and strongly denied by Damascus.

Since the killings, which were widely seen as weakening Assad’s position, the president has made just one brief TV appearance, swearing in his new defence minister.