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Middle east

Syria crisis 'worsening' as car bombs strike Damascus

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-10-29

Two car bombs struck in and around Damascus on Monday as Syrian jets bombarded parts of the capital on the fourth day of a supposed ceasefire. UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said that the crisis was going from bad to worse.

Two car bombs struck in and around Syria’s capital Damascus on Monday, killing at least 10 people on the fourth and final day of a supposed ceasefire. The explosions came after Syrian jets bombarded parts of the city, in what residents described as some of the fiercest air raids they have seen since the conflict began more than 19 months ago.

The first bomb struck near a bakery in the southeastern district of Jaramana, a predominantly Christian and Druze area just outside of the capital, which residents claimed is controlled by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

According to state news agency SANA, which blamed the attack on “terrorists”, the blast claimed the lives of at least 10 people, including women and children.

Several hours later, a second bomb ripped through Damascus’ restive southern Al-Hajar Al-Aswad district, causing an unknown number of casualties, state television said.

The violence came on the fourth day of a supposed ceasefire between regime and rebel forces. Each side has blamed the other for breaching the four-day truce, which was brokered by UN-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to mark the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.

‘From bad to worse’

As news of the latest violence emerged, Brahimi told reporters in Moscow that the crisis in Syria was degenerating.

“The situation is bad and getting worse,” Brahimi said after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday. “I have been calling what is happening in Syria a civil war. If that is not a civil war then I don’t know what is,” he said.

Rights groups reported that 400 people had been killed since Eid began on Friday, with clashes erupting just hours after the ceasefire came into effect.

“I am terribly sorry ... that this appeal [for a truce] has not been heard to the level we hoped it would, but that will not discourage us. It will not discourage us because Syria is very important and the people of Syria deserve our support and interest,” Brahimi said, adding that there were no plans to send a peacekeeping mission to the war-torn country.

Russia’s Lavrov meanwhile insisted that talks held the key to bringing peace. "They are fighting more and more in Syria, provocations and inadequate responses to them are daily occurrences. The goal for all Syrians is to stop shooting and sit behind the negotiating table,” the foreign minister said.

Fiercest bombardments yet

Monday’s car bombings were not the only explosions to shake the capital as Syrian warplanes reportedly launched their heaviest airstrikes yet on Damascus, leaving some areas in near ruins.

“More than 100 buildings have been destroyed, some levelled to the ground,” said opposition activist Moaz al-Shami, who said he had witnessed three air raids in the city’s northeastern suburb of Harasta alone. “Whole neighbourhoods are deserted.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian military launched 34 strikes across the country on Monday and that war planes had struck at least eight targets in Damascus.

An AFP correspondent reported that loud explosions were heard across several districts of the capital and were among the most intense since the conflict began.

A Syrian security official told AFP that the military was trying to prevent the rebels from boosting their hold on the area. "The army is conducting raids on agricultural lands and orchards around the capital because the rebels are trying to regroup and to strengthen their positions there," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Monday also saw heavy clashes erupting in the northern commercial hub Aleppo, where fighting has raged since mid-July, residents said.

The Syrian uprising, which began in March 2011 as a peaceful movement, has steadily militarised after being met with brutal state repression and has left more than 35,000 people dead, according to rights groups.


(FRANCE24 with wires)

Date created : 2012-10-29


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