Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Daoud Rajha was killed in a suicide attack in Damascus on Wednesday, the state TV reported.
"The Minister of Defense was martyred by the terrorist bombing that targeted the national security building," the report said. Gen. Rajiha has been Defense Minister for less than a year, serving previously as Chief of Staff, and has been blacklisted by the United States for his role in suppressing dissent in the strife-torn Middle East country.
Several senior security officials were also wounded when a suicide-bomber struck the National Security building in the Syrian capital where a meeting of Cabinet Ministers and senior security officials was in progress. The injured have been admitted to the capital's Al-Shami hospital, the state media said.
Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera reported that the Interior Minister and the head of the National Security office were among the critically injured. Activists contacted over telephone by the news channel spoke of an increased security presence around a hospital near the site of the reported explosion in northern Damascus which, they said, indicated that senior officials had been wounded.
The bomb attack came as fierce fightings between Syrian security forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Damascus entered the fourth day on Wednesday. Citing the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, several news outlets reported sounds of explosions on the outskirts of Damascus.
Activists said more security forces and tanks were seen in and around Damascus following the violence. They also said more than 60 soldiers had been killed in clashes with FSA fighters in the past 48 hours, but their claims could not be independently verified as foreign journalists are barred from reporting from Syria.
Wednesday's attack comes as top U.N. functionaries have been trying to persuade China and Russia, two important allies of Syria, to agree to tougher measures on Syria, ahead of a Security Council vote on imposing fresh sanctions on the Arab country, where at least 13,000 people have been killed since a popular uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad broke out 16 months ago.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, architect of a six-point peace plan to end violence in Syria, held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing as part of seeking a solution to the Syrian crisis.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com