Damascus

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Suicide Blast Kills Key Assad Henchmen

State TV reports that more officials seriously wounded

(Newser) - A regime-shaking suicide attack on the National Security building has killed Bashar al-Assad's defense minister and brother-in-law, according to the country's state-run TV. The New York Times calls the death of defense minister Daoud Rajha the "first assassination of a prominent official" in the entirety of the... More »

Russia: The West Is Blackmailing Us

In other developments, European firms sent equipment to Assad

(Newser) - Kofi Annan traveled to Moscow today to try to persuade one of Bashar al-Assad's most persistent allies to put more pressure on the regime, but Russia doesn't appear to be softening its stance. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today accused the West of using "elements of blackmail" to... More »

Assad's Damascus Onslaught Most 'Intense' Yet

50 reported killed yesterday

(Newser) - Neighborhoods across Damascus are facing a second day of regime attacks, and it has "never been this intense," says a leading activist. The army has been firing mortar rounds into areas held by the opposition Free Syrian Army, Rami Abdel Rahman notes. "The security forces are attempting... More »

Assad: Syria Is in State of 'Real War'

3 killed as gunmen storm pro-Assad TV station

(Newser) - After more than a year of describing the uprising against his rule as the work of scattered militant groups, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad now says the country is at war. "We are in a state of real war, in every aspect of the words, and when we're in... More »

Observers in Syria Find Traces of Mass Killing

Journalists suspect 'cover-up' in Qubair

(Newser) - Qubair was filled with blood and body parts, broken buildings, and the smell of burnt flesh, according to UN observers and journalists who examined the tiny Syrian town yesterday, reports the BBC . "This has basically been a scorched-earth policy by whoever this was; they've killed the people, they'... More »

As World Outrage Mounts, Annan Meets Assad

Is Russia ready to turn the screws?

(Newser) - As international pressure mounts for a crackdown on Syria in the wake of the Houla massacre, UN peace envoy Kofi Annan aims to demand "bold steps" from President Bashar al-Assad at his meeting today. Annan will attempt to hold Syria's feet to the fire on the six-point peace... More »

Deadly Blasts Rock Damascus, Syrian Intel HQ

Officials say at least 50 dead, 370 wounded

(Newser) - At least 50 people were killed and some 370 wounded in two huge, nearly simultaneous bomb blasts in Damascus today, targeting the headquarters of the feared "Palestinian Branch" intelligence services, Syrian officials said. The bombs hit the busy al-Qazaz district, and according to an AP reporter on the scene,... More »

20 Dead in Syria in 2 Explosions

Additional attacks reported in Damascus, as ceasefire called failure

(Newser) - Two large explosions rocked the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, killing as many as 20 people, reports al-Jazeera . Both bombs exploded near air force intelligence and military security buildings, and most of those killed were members of security forces, although some civilians were also reported to be among the dead.... More »

UN Monitors Arrive as Syria Shells Homs

'Ceasefire,' Syria style

(Newser) - The first UN monitors have arrived in Syria just as the promised ceasefire appears to be going up in smoke with the government's shelling of Homs. Some 25 were killed in attacks yesterday, reports the BBC . Six UN observers have arrived in Damascus. The remaining 25 are expected to... More »

Syria Escalates Violence, Cease-Fire In Danger

Tanks roll into Damascus suburb in one of conflict's worst raids yet

(Newser) - Syria is just days away from its cease-fire deadline, but the regime sent tanks and troops into a Damascus suburb yesterday, escalating the conflict in defiance of the Kofi Annan-brokered peace plan. "Clearly the violence is still continuing at alarming levels," Annan told the UN General Assembly yesterday,... More »

Syrian Rebels Accused of Kidnapping, Torture

Human rights group calls out freedom fighters for abuses

(Newser) - It's tempting to paint the conflict in Syria as a brutal regime fighting virtuous rebels, but Human Rights Watch today issued an open letter to the Free Syrian Army accusing insurgents of a variety of brutalities, including kidnapping and torturing security forces and government supporters. "The Syrian government'... More »

Russia to Syria: Stop Fighting— Temporarily

Red Cross needs humanitarian corridor to help the wounded, Russia says

(Newser) - Russia said today that Syria's government and rebels should halt their fighting once a day to give the Red Cross access to the wounded and that jailed protesters should be allowed to have visitors. The call from Russia, an important ally of Syria's, came after its officials met... More »

Things Get Ugly in Syria's Capital

Damascus witnesses report clashes in key neighborhood

(Newser) - Machine guns and explosions were audible as violence overtook a high-security section of Damascus last night, killing at least three and wounding 18 Syrian troops. Locals began hearing gunfire at about midnight and say "intensive gunfire" continued for hours in the Mazzeh district of the Syrian capital, an upscale... More »

2 Bombs Rock Damascus; 27 Dead

Violence returns to Syrian capital, suburbs

(Newser) - Two car bombs rocked Damascus this morning around 7:30 local time, killing civilians and security forces, report al-Jazeera and AP . State media reports 27 dead and more than 100 injured. One bomb hit the criminal security department and the other the aviation intelligence department. The usual blame game unfolded:... More »

One Year On, Syria Rallies for Assad

Gov't increasingly confident of putting down opposition

(Newser) - One year after the start of violent uprisings in Syria, thousands of flag-waving supporters gathered in Damascus to show their loyalty toward President Bashar al-Assad, reports Reuters . Rallies were also reported in several other Syrian cities, as the military stepped up its assault on rebel strongholds such as Homs and... More »

Clinton: UN Must Send 'Clear Message' to Syria

She rejects comparisons to Libya as 'false analogy'

(Newser) - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Security Council today that UN action to end the violence in Syria would be different from the NATO-led efforts in Libya that resulted in the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi. "I know that some members here may be concerned that the Security... More »

Syria: 'Terrorists' Blew Up Pipeline

62 killed in clashes yesterday: reports

(Newser) - A gas pipeline running from central Syria to its Lebanese border was blown up at dawn today, and state-run media is blaming "an armed terrorist group," reports the AP . It's the latest in a string of such explosions since the beginning of Syria's uprising, which the... More »

US May Shut Syrian Embassy

Washington demands better protection

(Newser) - One more tangible sign that Syria is growing increasingly isolated amid its violent crackdown on protesters: The US is threatening to shut its embassy in Damascus by the end of the month because of the growing violence, reports the Washington Post . Administration officials say they will make good on the... More »

Torture Kills Hundreds of Syrian Prisoners

Prisoners are deprived of sleep, shocked, claims human rights group

(Newser) - A suicide bomb in Syria's capital, reportedly aimed at a police bus, killed and wounded dozens today, the AP reports, as the country's political turmoil continues. And more disheartening news: A human rights group yesterday claimed that the government regularly tortures hundreds of prisoners; according to its research... More »

Suicide Bombs Rattle Syria; 40 Dead

Attacks come as Arab League observers arrive

(Newser) - More than 40 people are dead and 100 injured after two suicide car bombings in Damascus, the Syrian government says. The blasts seemed to be targeted against government intelligence buildings, reports AP , and they come a day after Arab League observers arrived amid an increasingly violent government crackdown on dissent.... More »

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