Syrian Defense Minister Killed In Explosion, State TV Says

Syria’s defense minister was killed today in an explosion at a government building in Damascus, state media there are reporting.

Correspondent Rasha Elass tells our Newscast Desk that Syrian state TV claims a suicide bomber targeted a government building. This comes as clashes in Damascus have escalated and the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime may have reached a tipping point.

According to The Associated Press, the explosion happened “during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and senior security officials.” Along with Defense Minister Gen. Dawoud Rajha’s death, state media are reporting that other senior officials were wounded, the wire service adds. The BBC says that among those reportedly injured was a brother-in-law of Assad.

Activists in Syria, Rasha reports, say today’s apparent attack marks the greatest breach of security against the Syrian regime yet. According to the BBC, “security sources say the suspected bomber worked as a bodyguard for members of President Bashar Assad’s inner circle.”

Meanwhile, as the AP writes, “the U.N. Security Council was scheduled to vote later Wednesday 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.”

We’ll update with more on the news as the story develops.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.