Fri, Jun 15, 2012 - Page 1 News List

At least 13 killed in Syrian violence: media, witnesses

CONTACT GROUP:Major powers are planning a crisis meeting on June 30, but Iran’s participation seemed to be in the way of organizing the meeting

AFP and Reuters, BEIRUT and GENEVA

Amnesty International activists take part in a demonstration calling for an end to violence in Syria and an end to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support of the Syrian regime, in front of the Russian embassy in the Hague yesterday. The goal of the demonstration is to raise international pressure on Russia and Putin to stop human rights violations in Syria.

Photo: AFP

At least 10 civilians and three rebels were killed yesterday in violence across Syria, while car bombs exploded in Damascus and the northwest city of Idlib, monitors reported.

A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle in a suburb of the capital, wounding 14 people and damaging one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines, state media and witnesses reported.

The state news agency SANA said the vehicle exploded in a garage 50m from the Sayyida Zeinab shrine. There was “substantial damage in the area of the blast,” and “the terrorist who carried out the operation was killed,” it said.

The car bomb in Idlib targeted a military checkpoint, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that a number of soldiers were killed or wounded in the blast. No further details were immediately available.

Five civilians were killed during clashes between regime troops and rebels in the central city of Homs, it said, while also reporting renewed regime shelling of Rastan in the province of the same name and of Daraa in the south.

Two opposition fighters, including Ahmed Bahbouh, head of the rebel military office in Rastan and a leading dissident figure, were killed at the entrances of rebel-held Rastan, which the regime has been trying to overrun for months.

Another dissident was killed in Homs Province.

In Daraa, five people were killed before dawn in the neighborhood of Tareek al-Sad, which was heavily shelled by regime troops, the Observatory said.

At least 77 people were killed across Syria on Wednesday, including 49 civilians, 21 soldiers and seven rebels, it said.

In related news, major powers are working toward holding a crisis meeting on Syria in Geneva on June 30 to try to get a tattered peace plan back on track, diplomats said yesterday.

Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League mediator, has called for convening the Contact Group as soon as possible, but there has been US opposition to Iran’s involvement.

“It is not confirmed, but people are still working toward something on the 30th,” a diplomat said.

The participation of Iran was believed to be a sticking point in organizing the meeting, another diplomat said.

Annan’s spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, declined to confirm any tentative arrangements.

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