Syrian defense minister killed in bombing, state-run media report - CNN
Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rally on April 1 in Istanbul, Turkey, as delegates from dozens of countries gather to push for ways to end the deadly violence in Syria. The United Nations estimates more than 10,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the crisis in March 2011. The conflict is now being labeled a civil war by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Syrians in Damascus protest in the street on March 25, 2011, after clashes with government forces in Daraa left several dead.
Syrian youths wave national flags while army troops drive out of Daraa on May 5, 2011. During a week-long military lockdown of the town, dozens of people were reportedly killed in what activists described as "indiscriminate" shelling on the city.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media in Washington on August 18, 2011. Clinton said U.S. sanctions on Syrian oil "strike at the heart of the Syrian regime."
Arab foreign ministers attend an emergency meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on October 16, 2011, to discuss the crisis in Syria.
A Syrian man who was wounded in a suicide attack rests at a hospital in Damascus on December 23, 2011. Suicide bombers hit two security service bases in the Syrian capital, killing dozens of people.
A day after the twin suicide bombings, Syrian mourners pray over the coffins of the 44 people killed during a mass funeral in Damascus.
Syrian refugees walk across a field before crossing into Turkey on March 14. International mediator Kofi Annan called for an immediate halt to the killing of civilians in Syria as he arrived in Turkey for talks on the crisis.
A Free Syrian Army rebel mounts his steed in the Al-Shatouria village near the Turkish border in northwestern Syria on March 16, a year after the uprising began. The Free Syrian Army is an armed opposition group made up largely of military defectors.
Syrian rebel fighters man a checkpoint leading into the town of Taftanaz in the rebel stronghold province of Idlib on March 20.
Thousands of Syrians wave their national flag and hold portraits of President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, right, during a rally to show support for their leader on March 29 in Damascus.
A U.N. observer speaks with Syrian rebels and civilians in the village of Azzara on May 4, days before the country's parlianemtary polls were held against a backdrop of unrest.
Members of the Free Syrian Army return to Qusayr on May 12 after an attack on Syrian regime forces in the village of Nizareer, near the Lebanese border in Homs.
People gather at a mass burial on May 26 for victims reportedly killed during an artillery barrage from Syrian forces in Houla. The attack left at least 108 people dead, including nearly 50 children, according to the United Nations.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad waves as he arrives for a speech to Syria's parliament in Damascus on June 3. The embattled president denied that government forces were behind the "outrageous" massacre in Houla.
A Syrian woman sits with her grandson outside a damaged building after attacks in the Syrian village of Treimsa on July 13. More than 200 people were massacred in the town, according to activists.
The death toll in Syria on July 12 reached 287, making it the bloodiest day in Syria since the uprising began. As it has done consistently, Syrian state television blamed "armed terrorist groups" for the killings.
A Syrian demonstrator holds an opposition flag during a protest in Damascus on July 2. There have been increasing reports of violence in the Syrian capital.
NEW: State-run media: The bombing occurred during a meeting of ministers and officials
At least 15 people are killed across Syria on Wednesday, opposition activists say
The U.N. Security Council must decide this week on what to do about 300 observers in Syria
Are you in Tremseh in Hama province? Send photos and stories to CNN iReport. (CNN) -- Syria's defense minister was killed Wednesday in a suicide bombing at a national security building in Damascus, state-run media reported.
A suicide bomber targeted the building in the Syrian capital Wednesday, state-run media said, fueling reports that the violence of the Syrian crisis has reached the seat of President Bashar al-Assad's power.
Syrian state-run TV reported that the bombing took place during a meeting of ministers and security officials,but did not immediately mention casualties.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said initial reports indicate a car bomb caused an "intense explosion" in Damascus.
Chaos ensued elsewhere in Damascus when loud explosions and heavy gunfire echoed through the city, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
Meanwhile, in the besieged city of Homs, "regime forces have intensified the shelling by using helicopter gunships, artillery and mortars in the city," the LCC said.
By midday Wednesday, at least 15 people had been killed across the country, the opposition network said.
Halfway across the world, the U.N. Security Council could vote Wednesday on the fate of 300 U.N. monitors as a Friday deadline looms.
The observers' work has been largely curtailed due to relentless violence that has surged in recent weeks and has moved into the capital of Damascus.
Security Council diplomats in New York are wrangling this week over dueling draft resolutions on the Syrian crisis.
Western countries are pushing for a resolution that threatens sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime if government forces don't stop attacks. That draft also calls for renewing the U.N. observer mission for 45 days.
But throughout Syria's 16-month crisis, Russia has opposed any international effort that seeks to blame, punish or change the Syrian government. Russia -- along with China -- has vetoed two previous draft resolutions in the U.N. Security Council, leading to accusations that Russia is protecting the Syrian regime.
Russia, meanwhile, has put forth its own draft, which "strongly urges all parties in Syria to cease immediately all armed violence in all its forms." The Russian draft also calls for renewing the U.N. observer mission for three months.
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On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague visited the Syrian-Jordan border and said his visit "brought home to me the full extent of the human tragedy unfolding in Syria."
He saw footage of al-Assad's forces "shooting at civilians fleeing over the border," Hague wrote on Facebook. "I met men and women who had walked for months to escape the fighting. I spoke to women from Homs, whose houses had been destroyed, their homes looted and members of their family killed.
"It left me in no doubt that the U.N. Security Council must pass an urgent Chapter VII resolution making possible globally-enforced sanctions if President Assad does not comply with Kofi Annan's peace plan. Our diplomats in New York are working urgently on this today."
Annan is the joint envoy to Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League.
He met Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
He called it "a very good discussion" about what to do to end the violence in Syria and bring about a political transition. "Obviously, the discussions in the Security Council regarding the resolution also came up," Annan told reporters after the meeting. "And 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."
In New York, members of the Syrian National Council, a prominent political opposition group, told reporters that the Security Council must do more to protect people on the ground against escalating violence.
Bassma Kodmani said the SNC is ready to explore "other alternatives," including calling on regional powers, to help protect the Syrian people if the deadlock at the Security Council persists.
She further blamed the uncertainties and division of the international community over Syria for the opposition's inability to unify.
"If you want unity of one of voice of the Syrian opposition you will not get it, but if you want a joint position on what the objective is, I think we have it," she said.
But even as al-Assad's regime faced growing pressure to halt the violence, state-run TV gave Syrians a very different picture.
Pro-military videos showed Syrian soldiers in a glowing light -- in a couple of cases literally. Can the Geneva Conventions stop the carnage in Syria?
Soldiers were shown smiling, kissing children, marching in sync and carrying out numerous exercises. Some members of the military were showing using martial arts to chop flaming bricks. Others jumped through flaming hoops.
Syrian state-run media consistently blames violence in the country on "armed terrorist groups."
CNN cannot confirm details of reported violence because Syria has restricted access to the country by international journalists.
Since the crisis began in March 2011, the United Nations estimates more than 10,000 people have been killed in the violence; opposition activists say more than 15,000 have died. Defector: 'The battle for Damascus is coming'
CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, Holly Yan, Richard Roth, Josh Levs and Brian Walker contributed to this report.