DAMASCUS // Given the extraordinary level of daily violence in Syria, a car bombing in neighbouring Lebanon might well have passed unnoticed.
But Friday's assassination of Wissam Al Hassan, head of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, has provoked worried discussion in Damascus, where the fates of the two countries are seen as irrevocably linked.
"It is a clear signal that our war is spreading, it will destroy us and I'm sorry to say it will destroy Lebanon too," said Abu Anas, a middle -aged man from the besieged Damascus suburb of Spaina.
"It means there is no hope for any of us to avoid the worst, we are all marching toward hell," he said.
An independent Syrian political analyst said the killing heralded an increasingly dirty war between intelligence services supporting Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, and those backing his opponents.
Al Hassan was closely linked to anti-Assad factions in Lebanon, which the Syrian authorities accuse of funding and arming the rebels.
"I expect we will see more of these killings, Beirut is a playground for foreign intelligence services and the gloves have been taken off, I'm sure General Hassan's murder will not go unanswered," said the Syrian analyst, who declined to be named.
Spillover of the war into Lebanon had been anticipated in Damascus.
"I'm surprised that it has taken so long, it was only a matter of time before a Lebanese official was blown up, that's the way these people do business," said a resident of the upmarket Abu Rumaneh area.
Syria has been widely accused by its opponents of orchestrating the bombing, although the authorities in Damascus have condemned the attack and denied any role.
Syrian opposition figures dismiss those protestations of innocence, but say it is too early to tell if the bombing will help or hurt Mr Al Assad's rule.
"On the surface, a major enemy for Syria has been eliminated so the regime will benefit from that," said a leading activist.
"On the other hand, it might have misjudged the situation and made a mistake that it will regret by trying to drag Lebanon into this," he said.