As it happened: Top Syrian ministers 'killed'

Key points

  • Syria's Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha and his deputy, President Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, have been killed in a blast in Damascus, state media report
  • Hassan Turkomani, the assistant to the vice-president, also died and other senior officials were injured in the blast at the National Security Building, says state TV
  • The reports come after days of fighting in the capital, and 16 after the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began
  • Syria has vowed to take revenge while at least two groups have claimed responsibility for the deaths, including the Free Syrian Army
  • The UN Security Council was due to vote for a new resolution on Syria but has delayed it until Thursday morning
  • All times are in BST

Live text

Reporting:

  • Olivia Lang 
  • Anna Jones 
  • Yaroslav Lukov 

Last updated 19 July 2012

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Syrian state TV is reporting that the country's Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha has been killed in a suicide bombing at the headquarters of the National Security Bureau in the capital Damascus.

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Gen Daoud Rajiha was appointed defence minister in August 2011, and remained in the post after a cabinet reshuffle in June.

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The 65-year-old had previously served as chief of staff of the armed forces for seven years. He was promoted to the rank of general in 2005. He specialised in artillery at the Syrian military academy, from which he graduated in 1967.

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State TV says the bomber struck the National Security Bureau in Damascus as ministers and officials were meeting inside. Several people are reported to have been critically injured in the attack.

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The capital has seen large scale violence in the past 24 hours. Fighters opposed to the government of Bashar al-Assad say they are launching a major offensive, but Syrian officials have downplayed the scale of the fighting.

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Syrian officials are calling the bombing the work of "terrorists" - they have consistently referred to fighters in the 16-month rebellion as terrorists and armed gangs.

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For a reminder of the background to the increasingly bloody conflict in Syria, have a look at our click-through guide, which examines the political, economic and social issues involved.

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Mike Wooldridge, World Affairs correspondent, BBC News, London

"The fourth consecutive day of fighting in Damascus has taken on a highly significant new turn with the attack on the national security building. Not only does the target add an entirely new dimension to the conflict it is also close to the presidential residence. Most of the previous fighting has been on the southern side of the centre of the capital."

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The report on Daoud Rajiha, carried on Sana TV, said: "The Minister of Defence was martyred by the terrorist bombing that targeted the national security building."