(Newsroom America) -- Reports from Syria say the defence minister and his deputy have been killed in a suspected suicide attack at security headquarters in Damascus.
Daoud Rajiha and Assef Shawkat, who is President Assad's brother-in-lawwer, were reportedly attending a meeting of senior officials when at the time.
The BBC quoted Syrian State TV as saying the national security chief and interior minister were critically hurt. It quoted sources as saying the suspected bomber was a bodyguard for members of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle.
The attack comes amid reports of a major rebel offensive on the capital and the BBC's Jim Muir, in neighbouring Lebanon, said the rebels now clearly believe that victory is within sight.
Shortly after the attack the Syrian armed forces reportedly released a statement saying Syria was "more determined than ever" to fight terrorism and wipe out "criminal gangs".
Meanwhile addressing the media in Moscow, the Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, voiced the hope that members of the Security Council will be able to reach agreement on a course of action to deal with the situation in the Middle Eastern country.
“I would hope that the Council will continue its discussions and hopefully find language that will pull everybody together for us to move forward on this critical issue,” Mr. Annan told reporters, following a meeting with the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.
The Joint Special Envoy said he, along with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, had a “very good” discussion with President Putin, focusing on what measures need to be taken to end the violence and the killing in Syria and how to proceed with a political transition there.
Mr. Annan arrived in Moscow yesterday for two days of talks. He has previously noted the importance of a united Security Council on the Syrian crisis, saying that “if the Council speaks with one voice, that voice is much more powerful than when it is divided.”
The crisis in Syria has continued unabated since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago. The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced.