News / Middle East

    Blast in Syrian Capital Kills 13

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (L) shakes hands with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi before a meeting in Damascus October 21, 2012.
    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (L) shakes hands with U.N.-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi before a meeting in Damascus October 21, 2012.
    VOA News

    A taxi rigged with explosives blew up near a police station in Syria's capital Sunday, killing 13 people and wounding 29, as U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met in another part of Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to push his call for a cease-fire.

     

    Syria's official SANA news agency said the blast took place in the Bab Touma neighborhood, a popular shopping district largely populated by Syria's Christian minority and one of the oldest areas in Damascus. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly bombing, but Islamist groups fighting alongside the rebels have claimed to be behind attacks against security targets in the capital.

     

    A large part of Syria's Christian community backs Assad.

     

    Elsewhere in Damascus, Brahimi - the joint U.N.-Arab special envoy for Syria - urged both sides in the conflict to support a cease-fire during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha that begins October 26.

     

    Brahimi told reporters following a closed-door meeting that he met earlier with Syrian opposition groups inside and outside the country to discuss his truce plan. He said he received "promises" but not a "commitment" from them to honor the cease-fire.


    He noted that he "found an overwhelming response'' from Assad's opponents to his cease-fire plan and that "all of them have said that it's a good idea which they support."

    He declined to reveal the Syrian president's response to his plan, viewed as a preliminary step toward a larger deal.

     

    The secretaries-general of the U.N. and the Arab League have also called for a cessation of violence during the religious period, as part of efforts to end the 19-month conflict.

     

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put Syria's initial death toll at 55 on Sunday, including 19 civilians, 7 rebel fighters, 4 defected soldiers and 25 regular soldiers.

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