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    Syrian Opposition to Form Government in Rebel Areas

    Syria's Opposition National Coalition has announced plans to form a provisional government in rebel-held areas of the country.

    An opposition spokesman made the announcement Friday following a meeting in Cairo about whether to hold peace talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government.

    The spokesman said the coalition will meet in Istanbul on March 2 to chose its prime minister.

    Mr. Assad has not commented on the announcement, which comes as violence continues to plague the country.

    The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said at least 12 people were killed and dozens wounded Friday in a missile strike in the northern city of Aleppo. The death toll is expected to rise, as many are believed to be trapped under the rubble of damaged buildings.

    Also on Friday, international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi condemned a bomb explosion Thursday in the Syrian capital that killed more than 100 people, saying the attack amounted to "war crimes."

    The toll given by Brahimi is far higher than the 60 dead reported earlier by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights. The bomb exploded in Damascus near the headquarters of the nation's ruling Ba'ath party, in a densely populated area near the al-Mazraa neighborhood. Most of the victims were reportedly civilians, including children from a nearby school.



    Syrian state media called the blast a "terrorist bombing". TV footage showing bloodied and charred bodies lying in the street.

    In the northern district of Barzeh, home to the nation's security headquarters, the Syrian rights group says three car bombings killed 22 people on Thursday, mostly soldiers.

    Central Damascus has been relatively insulated from the nearly two years of violence in Syria.

    In New York, the United Nations and the Arab League have extended the mission of their joint envoy to Syria through the end of the year.

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