Sunday 24 September 2017

Police station bomb kills 13

A Free Syrian Army fighter runs to take cover from a sniper in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district. Photo: Reuters
A Free Syrian Army fighter runs to take cover from a sniper in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district. Photo: Reuters

Jason Edwards Damascus

A TAXI rigged with explosives was blown up outside a police station in the Syrian capital, killing at least 13 people.

The bombing occurred as the UN envoy to the nation's crisis was visiting Damascus to push his call for a ceasefire in talks with President Bashar al-Assad.

The SANA state news agency said 29 people were also wounded in the blast in the Bab Touma neighbourhood, a popular shopping district largely inhabited by Syria's Christian minority.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but Islamist groups fighting alongside the rebels have sometimes claimed responsibility for bomb attacks against security targets in the capital.

In another part of the capital, UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met Mr Assad as part of his push for a ceasefire between rebels and government forces for the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which begins on Friday.

Mr Brahimi told reporters that he met earlier with Syrian opposition groups to discuss his truce plan. He said he received "promises" but not a "commitment" from them to honour the ceasefire.

Sovereignty

He noted that he "found an overwhelming response" from Mr Assad's opponents to his ceasefire plan and that "all of them have said that it's a good idea which they support".

He declined to reveal Mr Assad's response to his plan, viewed as a preliminary step toward a larger deal.

But SANA said he assured Mr Brahimi he supported his effort, but did not say whether he committed to a truce.

"The president said he is open to any sincere effort to find a political solution to the crisis on the basis of respecting the Syrian sovereignty and rejecting foreign interference," SANA said.

Syrian authorities blame the anti-government uprising that began in March last year on a foreign conspiracy and accuse Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with the US, other Western countries and Turkey, of funding, training and arming the rebels, whom they describe as "terrorists".

Elsewhere, in the northern city of Aleppo, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car in front of the French-Syrian Hospital at al-Zohour Street, causing material damage, and wounding several passers-by.

Anti-regime activists say more than 33,000 people have been killed since the anti-Assad revolt started.

Irish Independent

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