A suspected suicide bomb attack in Damascus has claimed the lives of Assef Shawkat, the Deputy Defence Minister and brother-in-law to President Bashar al-Assad, and the Defence Minister Daoud Rahja.
Syrian TV has confirmed the two men were killed. It is understood they died when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a meeting of security and military officials.
According to one source, the bomber worked as a bodyguard for the president’s inner circle. It is understood the country’s intelligence chief and interior minister were also seriously injured.
The attack on the National Security building comes amid intensified fighting in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Two groups – an Islamist rebel group and the Free Syrian Army – are claiming responsibility for the blast which strikes at the very heart of Assad’s powerbase.
Earlier this week the rebels launched Operation Damascus Volcano, to try to seize control of the Syrian capital. After the National Security attack, rebel spokesman Qassim Saadedine told a news agency by phone: “This is the volcano we talked about, we have just started.”