BEIRUT - Two rebel Syrian groups claimed responsibility for an explosion in Damascus on Wednesday that killed several top state officials, hailing it as successful strike at the heart of the government.

Syrian state TV said a "terrorist bombing" had killed Defense Minister Daoud Rajha as well as Assef Shawkat, President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law and the deputy defense minister. Several others were wounded, it said.

Two rebel groups claimed they carried out the attack, calling it a victory against Assad's inner circle, once seen as an impenetrable force.

Liwa al-Islam, an Islamist rebel group whose name means "The Brigade of Islam," said in a statement on its Facebook page that it had "targeted the cell called the crisis control room in the capital of Damascus."

The Free Syrian Army also claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Qassim Saadedine, a spokesman. "This is the volcano we talked about, we have just started," he said.

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