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Middle East

Twin suicide bombs target Damascus police station

Video by Solange MOUGIN


Latest update : 2013-06-11

Twin suicide bombs targeted a Damascus police station Tuesday, killing at least 14 people as the Syrian army attacked rebel positions in Aleppo. France's foreign ministry warned Tuesday that the conflict had reached a "turning point".

Twin suicide bombers targeted a Damascus police station on Tuesday killing at least 14 people, as the Syrian army launched multiple attacks on rebel positions in the northern province of Aleppo.

The blasts wounded more than 30 people, state media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said.

They caused widespread damage in the capital's central Marjeh neighbourhood, with state television broadcasting images of blood and broken glass on the pavement near the scene.

Syria at a 'turning point'

The Syrian conflict is at a "turning point" as regime forces gain ground, the French foreign ministry said Tuesday, adding that it was time to review whether to arm the opposition.

"There are lessons to be drawn from what happened in Qusair and what is happening in Aleppo," said ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot.

"We are at a turning point in the Syrian war. What should we do under these conditions to reinforce the opposition armed forces? We have had these discussions with our partners, with the Americans, the Saudis, the Turks, many others," he said, adding: "We cannot leave the opposition in the current state."

Lalliot said a French official will meet Salim Idriss, the chief of staff of the Free Syrian Army's Supreme Military Council, on Saturday.

(Source: AFP)

"The number of casualties after a twin suicide attack in Marjeh square has risen to 14 dead and 31 injured," said the channel, updating an earlier toll.

"The two suicide explosions took place near a police station," it said.

The Observatory put the death toll at 15, and said one of the blasts "was caused by a suicide bomb attacker who blew himself up inside the police station."

"A second explosion took place just outside the police station," the Britain-based group said, without elaborating on the nature of that blast.

"The number of casualties is expected to rise because several of the wounded are in critical condition," added the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers for its reports.

The Syrian cabinet denounced the attack, saying "armed terrorist groups and those behind them have failed completely because of the victories achieved by our brave army," state news agency SANA reported.

Meanwhile, in Aleppo province, the army launched multiple attacks on rebel positions, including insurgent-held areas of the key Minnigh military airbase, the Observatory said.

"Parts of Minnigh military airbase were shelled by regime forces... Rebels are in control of large swathes of the airbase," the Observatory said.

A military source told AFP heavy clashes were raging at the base for a third day, but denied any part of the airport was under rebel control.

He said the fighting was not part of a broader campaign that the regime has pledged to launch to re-take Aleppo city, large parts of which are in rebel hands, and other parts of the province.

But other areas of Aleppo were under fire, two days after pro-regime media said an army campaign in the province would began within "hours or days."

Regime forces shelled the opposition-controlled villages of Deir Hafer and Al-Bab, and hit the insurgent stronghold of Marea with rockets, the Observatory said.

There were unconfirmed reports of a ground-to-ground missile strike in Aleppo province, the Observatory added.

The regime has pledged to focus its attention on Aleppo after winning a strategic victory by retaking the town of Qusayr, in the central province of Homs.

Backed by fighters from Lebanon's powerful Shiite Hezbollah militia -- a key Syrian regime ally -- the army seized the town near the Lebanese border last week.

The militia's role has raised fears about the growing regionalisation of the conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011.

The fighting has spilled over into Lebanon, where seven rockets fired from Syria landed in the Hermel region, a Hezbollah bastion, on Tuesday.

The deteriorating situation in the Golan Heights has prompted Austria to announce it would withdraw its troops from the UN monitoring force on the strategic Syrian plateau, which is partly occupied by Israel.

On Tuesday, Austria's defence ministry said the withdrawal of the country's 378 troops stationed in the Golan would begin on Wednesday.

The international community, led by Russia and the United States, has been pushing for an international peace conference in Geneva to discuss a political solution to the conflict.

But preparations have stalled over which countries will participate, with Iran saying Tuesday it had been invited to the conference, despite opposition from some Western countries, including France.

"Ten days ago, we received a verbal invitation to take part in this conference," Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told reporters in Moscow, without saying who extended the invitation.



Date created : 2013-06-11


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