Huge Blast Rocks Damascus
Kids dead, Russian embassy damaged
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Feb 21, 2013 7:30 AM CST
Updated Feb 21, 2013 7:46 AM CST
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows first responders working after a huge explosion that shook central Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/SANA)

(Newser) – A powerful car bomb exploded in central Damascus today, blowing out the windows of the Russian embassy, and killing at least some children at a nearby school. The bomb detonated at a security checkpoint between the embassy and the Baath Party Headquarters, the BBC reports. Activists say at least 31 people were killed—mostly civilians, according to Sky News. Syrian State Television said about 57 cars had been damaged in the explosion, which created a five-foot crater in the road. Meanwhile, the AP reports that 18 people have been killed in a government airstrike on a field hospital in Daraa.

The Damascus blast "was huge. Everything in the shop turned upside down," says one resident who witnessed a young girl being killed by flying glass. "I pulled her inside the shop, but she was almost gone." It was the first of four explosions to hit Damascus today, but is especially notable because the central city has been relatively insulated from such attacks, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, on the war's diplomatic front:

  • Russia's foreign minister and the Arab League's general secretary are urging the sides to create a unified transitional government. "Neither side can allow itself to rely on a military solution," Russia's Sergei Lavrov said, "because it is a road to nowhere."
  • But a senior Syrian National Coalition official said Bashar al-Assad and his inner circle "must go first," adding, "After that we can discuss with others in the regime who didn't share in the killing of our people."
  • But a draft rebel communiqué indicates they are willing to drop their demand that Assad depart as a precondition for talks. Britain's foreign secretary today said that opposition chief Mouaz al-Khatib had made a "very important offer of negotiation," and urged the regime to respond "with serious negotiations," the AFP reports.

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Feb 21, 2013 2:36 PM CST
Army Units Continue to Eliminate Terrorists in Several Provinces, Destroy Their Equipment Units of the armed forces on Thursday carried out a number of qualitative operations at the crossroad of Amouda Town and al-Jamilia Town in Jisr al-Shughour Countryside. A number of the terrorists who were committing acts of looting and highway robbery were either killed or injured during the operations. SANA reported quoted a source in the province as saying that units of the armed forces also smashed a den used by the terrorists for planning their operations in al-Janoudia Town as all the terrorists were eliminated and their equipment was destroyed. Army Units Pursue Terrorists in Some Provinces, Destroy Their Dens and Equipment In the framework of pursuing terrorists, a unit of the armed forces on Wednesday carried out a number of qualitative operations against their dens in several areas in Damascus Countryside, Idleb and Deir Ezzor as it destroyed their cars and the tools used in their criminal acts. A military source told SANA that a field hospital of the terrorist group was also destroyed along with a number of machinegun-equipped cars in Moadamieh, in addition to eliminating a number of the terrorists in Harasta and Adraa in Damascus Countryside . The source added that a unit of the armed forces hunted a terrorist group in al-Zabadani area as they were either killed or injured among the killed terrorists Ali Mohammad al-Laham, Muhieddin Khalid and Ibrahim Burhan. A den of a terrorist group was also targeted in Ariha in Idleb as all the terrorists inside it were killed including Basim Najura and another terrorist called "al-Masda", in addition to eliminating all the members of a terrorist group to the east of Sarmin. The armed forces also destroyed a vehicle equipped with a heavy machinegun and a big store of ammunition and weapons containing two trucks loaded with ammunition and various rockets in al-Sarja Town in Idleb Countryside. The military source indicated that units of the armed forces confronted a terrorist group which had tried to attack military points in Marat area and the Sheep Market in Deir Ezzor as a number of the terrorists were killed and others were injured and RPG launchers were confiscated while five cars were destroyed and the terrorists were eliminated. In the same context, a unit of the armed forces continued to pursue the armed terrorist groups in Qubaitat, Abu al-Huda, Hasrayia, Kafar Nabouda, al-Wardan, al-Amyia, al-Arbain, al-Qaramita, Tal Mileh and Tal al-Hawash in Hama Countryside as scores of the terrorists were killed or injured. Infiltration Attempts Foiled, Attacks on Border Guards Repelled in Talkalakh Units of the Armed Forces together with the border guards last night repelled terrorist groups that attempted to cross the border from Lebanon into Syria in the countryside of Talkalah in Homs. SANA reporter quoted a source in the province as saying that terrorist groups tried to infiltrate at the sites of al-Majbel, Harmoush, al-Armouteh and Shahira in Talkalakh. In parallel, the terrorist groups attacked the border guard stations in the aforementioned areas using missile shells and machineguns, the source added. It stressed that the army units and the border guard forces repelled the infiltration attempts and the attack, inflicting heavy losses upon the terrorist groups. The source noted that ambulances were seen heading towards the area on the Lebanese side to withdraw the killed and injured terrorists. Infiltration Attempt Foiled in Homs, Terrorists' Gatherings Destroyed A unit of the Armed Forces on Wednesday repelled an infiltration attempt by two terrorist groups from the Lebanese territories into Syria through Halat and Eyon al-Sha'ara sites in the countryside of Talkalakh in Homs province. SANA reporter quoted a source in the province as saying that the army unit killed and injured many members of the two terrorist groups while the rest fled away into the Lebanese territories. Meanwhile, the authorities stormed into a terrorists' hideouts in Basateen Joubar area in the countryside of Homs, seizing large amount of weapons and ammunition. A source in the province told SANA reporter that ammo boxes for DShK and BKM machineguns and different types of weapons were seized inside the hideout. Army Kills Many terrorists in Damascus countryside A unit of the armed forces toady carried out a qualitative operation at al-Shefouniya farms in the East of Ghouta, killing a number of terrorists and leaders of the so-called "Liua al-Islam", while many others were wounded. An official source told SANA reporter that during the operation, many dens and missiles launching-pads and munitions for the terrorists were destroyed. Units of the armed forces carried out series of qualitative operations in Daraya, Erbin and Zamalka in Damascus countryside, killing a number of terrorists and wounding many others, while their cars, equipped with weapons were fully destroyed. An official source told SANA reporter that units of the army clashed with remnants of terrorists to the south of Shrieda square and near railways in Darya, killing many of them including Adnan, known as Abu Abdo, Samer, known as Abo Imad and Mohammad, known as Abu Abdullah. East of the town of al-Nabek, an Armed Forces unit pursued a terrorist group and inflicted heavy losses upon them, destroying a number of cars used by terrorists along with the weapons and munitions inside them. Army Units Destroy Terrorists' Gatherings and Vehicles in Idleb Units of the Armed Forces targeted terrorists' gatherings in al-Shaghr, al-Bashiriyeh and near al-Janoudiyeh crossroad in the countryside of Jisr al-Shughour in Idleb, inflicting heavy losses upon them. A source in the province told SANA reporter that the operation resulted in killing and injuring many terrorists, in addition to destroying their vehicles and weapons. It added that another army unit destroyed gathering of terrorists in Ditta, Maaret Masrin, al-Nairab and Abu al-Dhuhour areas. The source noted that a number of terrorists were killed and two vehicles equipped with heavy machineguns were destroyed in the operation. Terrorists' Dens Targeted in Damascus Countryside, Many Killed Units of the Armed Forces continued pursuing the terrorist groups in a series of operations they carried out in Douma farms, Harasta, al-Rihan farms and Kafr Batna in the eastern Ghouta in Damascus Countryside. The operations targeted several dens for terrorists and resulted in killing a number of them and injuring others. An official source told SANA reporter that a gathering for terrorists was targeted in Douma farms and Harasta in which several terrorists were killed, including Mohannad Affouf, Osama Shalleh, Adham Edris, Mohammad Bweidani, Bassam Meikeh, Mahmoud al-Mahshi and Adnan al-Ajuwah. Meanwhile, another army unit chased down a terrorist group in Kafr Batna in the eastern Ghouta and killed many of its members and injured the others. Terrorist Mahmoud al-Khaiyat, the group's leader, was identified among the dead, in addition to Abdul-Razzaq al-Nabki, Mohammad Halaweh and Mohammad al-Durreh. In al-Rihan farms, a unit of the Armed Forces destroyed a terrorists' den with all the ammunition and weapons inside which included automatic rifles and various types of machineguns and ammunition. Army Units Inflict Heavy Losses upon the Terrorists in Aleppo and its Countryside Units of the Armed Forces carried out operations against the armed terrorist groups in Aleppo and its countryside. An official source told SANA reporter that the Army units carried out several operations in al-Nyrab, Tall Shougib, Tall Hasel, al-Azeeza, Kashkash, Houritan, Mayier and al-Bayanoun in Aleppo countryside, inflicting heavy losses upon the terrorists. In Aleppo city, the Army units carried out operations in Karm al-Maysar, al-Haydaria, al-Soukri and al-Nakarin, killing and injuring a number of terrorists.
Feb 21, 2013 1:06 PM CST
its surprising that its been 4 hours and only one comment mentioning or blaming Israel, people must be busy today
Feb 21, 2013 10:54 AM CST
it would see the western allies are not fussy about who they back. car bombs killing civilians is not a good advertisement for the rebels. america has become openly immoral following israel down their preferred path