BEIRUT (AP) — A Sunni Muslim preacher who was killed in a suicide bombing in Damascus today is the most senior religious figure to die in Syria's civil war.
The preacher (Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti) was killed along with at least 41 others when a bomber struck a mosque in the heart of the Syrian capital.
He was one of the few prominent supporters of President Bashar Assad from the country's majority Sunnis who have risen up against Assad.
The bombing was among the most serious security breaches seen in the capital. An attack in July that targeted a high-level government crisis meeting killed four top regime officials, including Assad's brother-in-law and the defense minister.
Among the opposition, there's a mixture of suspicion and shock over the killing of the preacher.
A spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition told Al-Arabiya TV that he doesn't know of an opposition group "that could do something like this."
APPHOTO BEI112: In this citizen journalism image taken on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrian citizens search for dead bodies on the rubble of damaged buildings that were attacked by Syrian forces airstrikes, at al-Zarazir neighborhood, in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian rebels captured one village and parts of others on the edge of the Golan Heights Thursday as fighting closed in on the strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and later annexed, activists and officials said.(AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC) (21 Mar 2013)
<<APPHOTO BEI112 (03/21/13)>>
APPHOTO BEI114: In this undated photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, an 84-year-old cleric known to all Syrians as a religious scholar, speaks at a press conference. Al-Buti, a top Sunni Muslim preacher and longtime supporter of President Bashar Assad was killed in a suicide bombing in the Eman Mosque, at the Mazraa district, in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, March 21, 2013, state TV reported. (AP Photo/SANA) (25 Jan 2013)
<<APPHOTO BEI114 (01/25/13)>>