Activists and a local journalist say a shell has hit Syria's first international trade fair since the war broke out six years ago, killing and wounding several people. Sunday's shelling comes three days after the Syrian government opened the international trade fair, an event hailed by officials as a "victory" and a sign of renewed confidence in the war-torn nation. A Facebook page that tracks violence in the capital reports that the shell hit the entrance of the Damascus International Fair, killing four and wounding four others. A journalist working for state media confirmed the shelling, saying it left "several people martyred or wounded," the AP reports.
Earlier Sunday, Syrian President Bashar Assad blasted the West, rejecting any security cooperation or reopening of embassies in Damascus before those countries cut relations with opposition groups. His defiant comments come at a time when his troops are gaining ground around the country and many countries have ceased calling for him to step down. In a speech before dozens of Syrian diplomats in Damascus, Assad praised Russia, Iran, China, and Lebanon's Hezbollah for supporting his government during his country's civil war. He said Syria will look east when it comes to political, economic, and cultural relations. (Read more Syria stories.)