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Middle east

Dozens killed in Homs, Damascus attacks

© Afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-29

Dozens of people have been killed in separate car bomb and mortar attacks in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Homs on Tuesday, state media and a monitoring group said.

At least four mortar shells struck the mainly Shiite district of Shaghour in central Damascus in an attack that killed at least 14 and wounded 86 others, state news agency SANA reported.

Two of the shells hit the Badr al-Din al-Hussein school complex, a religious jurisprudence college which residents said is also attended by primary and secondary school students.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the violence in Syria, also reported the attack, but put the death toll at 17.

SANA attributed the attack to “terrorists”, a term used by the Syrian government and state media to refer to the opposition rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Shaghour is a district in the Old City, which has frequently been hit by rebel fire.

Rebel forces arrayed in positions on the outskirts of the capital regularly fire mortar shells and rockets into the heart of Damascus, frequently killing civilians.

At least 37 dead in Homs attack

Meanwhile, in Homs, two car bombs killed at least 37 people, including women and children, near a busy roundabout, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least another 80 were injured in the attack on the government-held Zahra district of the central city, the monitoring group said.

However, the city's governor told the AFP news agency that the death toll stood at 45 and that rocket fire had also been involved in the attack.

"The rocket fell about half an hour after the bombing on the same area, where there was a crowd of people" trying to help those injured in the blast, said Governor Talal al-Barazi.

The attacks came a day after President Bashar al-Assad announced he would seek re-election in a June 3 vote, despite international calls for him to step down and a more than three-year-long uprising against his rule.

The United Nations, as well as US, French and Turkish leaders, have publicly called for Assad to resign.

A UN investigation into human rights violations in Syria implicated Assad in war crimes in February of last year. The UN inquiry cited “massive evidence” linked to “the highest level of government”.

Assad’s forces have pushed back the mainly Sunni opposition rebels from many of their strongholds around the capital, but residents say they have stepped up rocket and mortar attacks against the heart of the city in recent weeks.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-04-29

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