Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Syrian Defence Minister killed in suicide blast

BEIRUT, July 18, 201

A suicide bomber struck the National Security building in the Syrian capital on Wednesday, killing the Defence Minister and wounding other senior officials in a brazen attack on the seat of government power, state-run TV said.

Defence Minister Dawoud Rajha, 65, is the most senior government official to be killed in the Syrian civil war as rebels battle to oust President Bashar Assad.

The capital has seen four straight days of clashes pitting government troops against the rebels, an unprecedented challenge to government rule in the tightly controlled capital.

Rajha, a former army general, was the most senior Christian government official in Syria. Mr Assad appointed him to the post last year.

Wednesday's attack struck the National Security building in Damascus during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and senior security officials. State-run TV said some of the officials were seriously wounded, and later reported the Defence Minister killed.

Damascus-based activist Omar al-Dimashki said Republican Guard troops surrounded the nearby al-Shami Hospital where some officials were taken for treatment.

The U.N. Security Council was scheduled to vote later on Wednesday on a new resolution aimed at pressuring the Syrian regime to comply with a peace plan.
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