Sunni cleric who backed Assad dies in bomb attack
A suicide bomber blew himself up during evening prayers inside a mosque in Damascus last night, killing a top Sunni cleric, a supporter of president Bashar al-Assad.
The death removes one of the few remaining pillars of support of the Alawite leader had among Syria’s majority sect.
Sunnis have led the revolt against Mr Assad, a movement that began as peaceful protests but evolved into bloody, civil war that has sparked sectarian bloodshed between Sunnis and the minority Alawite population
Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, the 84-year-old imam of the Ummayyad Mosque – a religious scholar who appears often on Syrian TV – was killed in the blast at the Eman Mosque in the central Mazraa district, said the state broadcaster.
Fourteen people were killed and more than 40 injured in the attack, it added.
Mr Buti’s death is a big blow to Syria’s embattled leader, who is fighting mainly Sunni rebels seeking his fall. Mr Buti has been a vocal supporter of his regime since the early days of his father and predecessor, the late president Hafez al-Assad. The cleric had become a reviled figure among rebels.
In recent months, Syrian TV has carried his sermon from mosques in Damascus live every week. He also has a regular religious TV show.
In one of his recent TV speeches, Mr Buti described the opposition as “scum”. He also used his position to call on Syrians to join the armed forces and help Mr Assad defeat the rebels.
He will be remembered for a sermon he gave early in the conflict in which he told Mr Assad he had had a vision that Syria would “receive God’s wrath”, but would survive.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West