Syria’s defence minister and his deputy, President Assad’s brother-in-law, have died in a suspected suicide bombing at security headquarters in Damascus.
Daoud Rajiha and Assef Shawkat were attending a meeting of senior officials at the time of the attack which came amid claims of a major rebel offensive on the city. Among the injured were the national security chief and interior minister.
Gunfire and plumes of smoke were reported in a street near parliament as fighting reached central areas of the city on Tuesday. Rebels forces declared a final battle for the capital, called Operation Damascus Volcano, and have been fighting in parts of Damascus for the past three days. This latest attack could mark an important turning point in the ongoing struggle to overthrow the Assad regime.