World Bulletin / News Desk
A suicide bomber struck the National Security building in the Syrian capital Wednesday, killing the defense minister and President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law - the harshest blow to the Syrian regime since the uprising began.
Syrian state-run TV said the blast came during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and senior security officials in Damascus, where four straight days of clashes pitting government troops against rebels have sent tensions soaring.
Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, 65, a former army general, was the most senior government official to be killed in the Syrian civil war as rebels battle to oust Assad. Gen. Assef Shawkat, the deputy defense minister and one of the most feared figures in Assad's inner circle, also was killed. He was married to Assad's older sister, Bushra.
Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar was wounded and in stable condition, state TV said.
Republican Guard troops surrounded the nearby al-Shami Hospital, where some officials were taken for treatment, witnesses said.
The blast came on the same day the U.N. Security Council was scheduled to vote on a new resolution aimed at pressuring the Syrian regime to comply with a peace plan.
But Russia remained at loggerheads with the U.S. and its European allies over any mention of sanctions and Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict in Syria.
The key stumbling block is the Western demand for a resolution threatening non-military sanctions and tied to Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict in Syria.
Russia is adamantly opposed to any mention of sanctions or Chapter 7. After Security Council consultations late Tuesday on a revised draft resolution pushed by Moscow, Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Pankin said these remain "red lines."
Russia has said it will veto any Chapter 7 resolution, but council diplomats said there is still a possibility of last-minute negotiations.Last Mod: 18 Temmuz 2012, 17:48