Top of the Morning: Suicide Blast Strikes Assad’s Inner Circle; UN Doctor Shot in Polio Vaccine Campaign in Pakistan;

Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

Suicide Blast Kills Members of Assad’s Inner Circle

There is word out of Damascus that a suicide bomber somehow made his way inside a meeting of the Syrian president’s top security advisors. At least two people, including the defense minister and Assad’s brother-in-law, are confirmed killed. “According to state television, the dead included the defense minister, Daoud Rajha, and Asef Shawkat, the president’s brother-in-law who was the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military. But it rejected reports by activists that the minister of the interior was also dead, saying he remained alive and in a stable condition…In the confusion after the attack, and in the absence of an authoritative official account, there were conflicting reports about who was killed and who survived. Activists and media reports spoke of fatalities among the most senior figures in the very inner circle of the Assad administration, a close group that includes the deputy chief of staff of the military, Mohamed Sha’ar, the minister of the interior and Mohammed Ikthtiar, the head of national security.” (NYT

UN Doctor Shot While Delivering Polio Vaccine in Pakistan

This may be just part of the fallout from the CIA using a fake vaccination campaign in Pakistan to gather intelligence that lead to the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. “Gunmen opened fire on a United Nations vehicle in the southern port city of Karachi on Tuesday, seriously wounding a Ghanaian doctor who was part of an urgent campaign to eradicate polio from Pakistan. The attack was a further blow to the three-day polio vaccination drive, which had already been stymied in some parts of the country by Taliban threats. Attacks on international aid workers in Karachi have been rare. The United Nations vehicle came under fire as it passed through Gadap, a neighborhood on the northwestern outskirts of Karachi, early on Tuesday. The doctor, who was shot in the abdomen, was taken to the private Aga Khan Hospital for emergency treatment, according to Guido Sabatinelli, country director for the World Health Organization, who spoke by phone from Karachi. The doctor’s driver, who was less seriously injured, was also treated and released, Mr. Sabatinelli said. He said he could not release the victims’ names because his staff had not yet reached the doctor’s family in Ghana.” (NYT

Israel’s Ruling Coalition Fractures, Potentially “Paralyzing”Middle East Peace

A moderate party is pulling out of the Israeli government coalition, potentially making Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more beholden to hardline elements of the Israeli Knesset opposed to concessions to the Palestinians “The moderate Kadima Party voted to pull out of the government in a feud over attempts to reform the country’s military draft. The move, just two months after Kadima joined the coalition, appeared to push the country closer to early elections, a scenario that would paralyze Mideast diplomacy for months. Even if Netanyahu manages to hold the truncated coalition together, the sudden crisis has broader implications for Mideast peace, leaving him in charge of a narrow parliamentary majority dominated by religious and nationalist hard-liners who oppose concessions to the Palestinians. Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz brought the party into the coalition to work with Netanyahu on ending a contentious, decades-old system that has granted draft exemptions to tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students. But with a court-ordered Aug. 1 deadline to revise the law, the sides were unable to forge a compromise.”  (WaPo

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