UPDATE 1-Syria bomb will speed end of conflict-opposition head

Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:04pm EDT

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By Regan Doherty

DOHA, July 18 (Reuters) - A suicide bombing that killed three of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's top military officials on Wednesday will speed the end of the uprising against him, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council said on Wednesday.

"This is the final phase. They will fall very soon," Abdelbasset Seida told Reuters in an interview in the Qatari capital Doha. "Today is a turning point in Syria's history. It will put more pressure on the regime and bring an end very soon, a matter of weeks or months."

The bomb killed Assad's powerful brother-in-law, the defence minister and a top general, bringing the battle to the heart of Assad's powerbase and sparking fighting across Damascus.

"The regime is very weak at the moment. They are confused. This is the final phase. They will fall very soon. If you look at the economic situation, it is a matter of months until they will not be able to pay salaries," said Seida.

Seida said he did not share fears among some Western leaders that Assad's fall would enflame sectarian conflict in the country and destabilise Syria's neighbours - Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan.

"We've been preparing for the end of the Assad regime for a long time. Our aim is to reach that phase with minimal losses. We have plans on the economic, administrative and social levels, and we are certain we can do it," he said.

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