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Middle east

Deadly car bomb strikes Damascus

©

Video by Sammy BERRAHMOUN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-12-22

At least five people were killed and dozens others wounded on Saturday after a car bomb exploded in the Syrian capital of Damascus's Qaboun district, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights has said.

At least five people were killed and dozens wounded after a car bomb exploded in the Syrian capital of Damascus’s eastern Qaboun district on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Another activist group in Damascus gave no figures for the number of people killed in the blast but said bodies were still being recovered from wreckage caused by the explosion.

The British-based Observatory, which monitors violence across Syria through a network of sources on the ground, also reported clashes between rebel fighters and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the edge of the southern Damascus neighbourhood of Hajar al-Aswad.

The district is next to the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, which was taken over by rebels this week.

An unwinnable war, Russia says

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that neither side would win the civil war in Syria, and that China and Russia – two of the country’s closest allies – would be unable to persuade Assad to quit even if they tried.

Russia has been rowing back after the Kremlin’s Middle East envoy was quoted earlier this month as saying that the rebels could defeat Assad’s government and that Russia was preparing for a possible evacuation of its nationals, the strongest signs yet that Russia is positioning itself for a post-Assad Syria.

“Listen, no one is going to win this war,” Lavrov told reporters aboard a government plane en route to Moscow from the Russia-EU summit in Brussels.

“Assad is not going anywhere, no matter what anyone says, be it China or Russia.”

Lavrov repeated that Russia had rejected requests from countries in the region to pressure Assad to go or offer him safe haven, and that his exit might lead to an upsurge in fighting.

“Some regional powers suggested that we tell Assad we were ready to accommodate him,” he said. “And we replied ‘Why do we have to do it? If you have these plans, go to him yourselves directly.’”

He said the international envoy seeking peace through diplomacy, Lakhdar Brahimi, would visit Russia before the end of this year.

Chemical weapons

In comments cleared for release on Saturday, Lavrov also said Syria’s chemical weapons had been concentrated in one or two areas and were “under control” for the time being.

Lavrov said the biggest threat from Syria’s chemical weapons was that they could fall into the hands of militants.

“Currently the (Syrian) government is doing all it can to secure (chemical weapons), according to intelligence data we have and the West has,” he said.

“The Syrian authorities have concentrated those arms deposits, previously scattered across the country, in one or two centres.”

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this month that Washington had intelligence raising serious concerns that Assad’s government was considering using chemical weapons against Syrian rebels.

The Observatory says 44,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising erupted against Assad in March last year.
 

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2012-12-22

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