Syria's fighting took a dramatic turn on Wednesday when Bashar al-Assad's defense minister and his brother-in-law were killed in a blast at a security building, according to The New York Times.
Both the defense minister, Daoud Rajha, and the brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat, the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military, were killed during a meeting of senior ministers and security chiefs, The Times reported. The meeting's goal was to determine ways to quell the uprising.
The Syrian government claimed the bombing was a suicide attack, but the commander for rebel forces tells the Associated Press that it was not. In an interview with AP, Riad al-Asaad said that rebels placed a bomb inside the room where the officials were meeting.
The killing comes amid increased fighting in Damascus, growing pressure on the United Nations to adopt harsher sanctions, and mounting outcries by Syrian opposition fighters and families for Western military intervention against Assad.
Members of the opposition claim to be holding ground in several neighborhoods in Damascus, despite heavy firepower from government troops, according to The Washington Post.
Analysts tracking the uprising say the opposition forces have mounted more attacks and inflicted more casualties over the last month, according to The Post.
Kevin Baron contributed