Syrian rebels say attacks herald "beginning of the end"

MILAN Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:17pm EDT

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MILAN (Reuters) - The suicide bomb attacks which killed Syria's defense minister and President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law herald a new phase in the crisis and will fuel more uprisings, a spokesman for the rebel Syrian National Council said on Wednesday.

"In the long run we think that this operation is the beginning of the end," George Sabra said during a visit to Milan, adding that he expected more defections from the Syrian army to rebel forces.

However he declined to speak in detail about who had carried out the attacks.

"It is not important to talk about which individuals did the operation but the most important thing is that this was done by revolutionary activists and the Free Syrian Army."

The Free Syrian Army earlier claimed the attack, as did Liwa al-Islam, an Islamist rebel group whose name means "The Brigade of Islam", which said it had it had carried it out after weeks of planning.

Sabra said the U.N. Security Council had to move more swiftly than its international mediator Kofi Annan had done so far.

"The last mission three months of Mr Annan cost us more than 3,000 victims. We cannot pay this price again," he said.

(Reporting by Philip Baillie; Editing by Alison Williams)

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