State TV: Suicide Bombing Kills Syrian Defense Minister

Posted July 18th, 2012 at 7:55 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian state television says a suicide bomber has struck the National Security building in Damascus, killing defense minister Daoud Rajha and seriously wounding several other officials.

Reports say the deputy defense minister, Assef Shawkat, was also killed. Shawkat was brother-in-law to President Bashar al-Assad.

Wednesday's attack took place during a meeting of top government officials.

The attack comes amid days of clashes between rebels and government troops in the capital.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution that would extend the U.N. observer mission in Syria.

The mission's mandate expires Friday and the Council has been divided about whether a new resolution should include a threat of sanctions against President Assad's government.

Britain, France, the United States and Germany have proposed a draft calling for sanctions, if Syria does not implement U.N. envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan. Russia has promised to veto that version. Russia's draft does not include any sanctions.