Syria's rebel commander says his forces carried out an attack in the city of Damascus, subsequently killing the Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha and his deputy Gen. Assef Shawkat.
As reported by the Associated Press:
Although it was unclear who was behind the attack, the high-level assassination could signal a turning point in the 16-month conflict as the violence becomes increasingly chaotic.
The capital also has seen four straight days of clashes pitting government troops against rebels - an unprecedented challenge to government rule in the tightly controlled capital.
Rajha was the most senior Christian government official in Syria. Assad appointed him to the post last year. His death will resonate with Syria's minority Christian population, who make up about 10 percent of Syria's population and have generally stood by the regime.
Christians say they are particularly vulnerable to the violence sweeping the country of 22 million people, and they are fearful that Syria will become another Iraq, with Christians caught in the crossfire between rival Muslim groups.
Wednesday's attack struck the National Security building in Damascus during a meeting of Cabinet ministers and senior security officials. State-run TV said some of the officials were seriously wounded.
Damascus-based activist Omar al-Dimashki said Republican Guard troops surrounded the nearby al-Shami Hospital where some officials were taken for treatment.
The violence is increasing in Syria and the regime is headed for a change if the rebels stay on their course of overturning the government.
Above: Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, stands next to Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Dawoud Rajha, right, and Chief of Staff Gen. Fahed al-Jasem el-Freij, left, during a ceremony to mark the 38th anniversary of the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, in Damascus, Syria. (AP Photo/SANA, File)