It has been confirmed Assef Shawkat The brother-in-law of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the country's defence minister Daoud Rajih are among several senior officials killed in a suicide bomb attack on a national security building in Damascus. Two officials are also seriously injured, the Intelligence Chief: Hisham Bekhtyar and the Interior Minister: Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar.

Dozens of Ministers and security officials were meeting inside the building when the attack happened.

Meanwhile, UN chief Kofi Annan met Russian President General to try and persuade China and Russia to agree tougher measures on Syria, ahead of a Security Council vote on Wednesday on imposing sanctions.

The key stumbling block is the Western demand for a resolution threatening non-military sanctions of the UN Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict in Syria. Russia is reportedly opposed to any mention of non-military sanctions, which can be enforced militarily, which the US and its European allies insist must be included in a new resolution.

As the country descends into all out civil war, and the rebels within sight of Assad's presidential palace. The UN has until Friday to renew the mandate for observers in Syria, although a vote is expected in New York on later today.

Written and Presented by Ann Salter