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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bombs kill 45, wound 110 near Syria shrine

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(Earth is rising over the Moon's Surface), Source: https://www.facebook.com/RealEstateSA5000/photos/a.899877783394135.1073741829.899009183480995/920077631374150/?l=734b9eef72 By AFP Published: January 31, 2016 6 SHARES Share Tweet Email The Syrian government accuses rebels of targeting Sayyeda Zainab shrine, which is now protected by hundreds of fighters from Iraq and the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah group. PHOTO: AFP The Syrian government accuses rebels of targeting Sayyeda Zainab shrine, which is now protected by hundreds of fighters from Iraq and the powerful Lebanese Hezbollah group. PHOTO: AFP BEIRUT: At least 30 people were killed and dozens more wounded on Sunday in three bombings near the Sayyida Zeinab shrine south of the Syrian capital Damascus, state media said. State news agency SANA said 110 people were wounded in a car bomb attack and two suicide bombings, citing an interior ministry source. An earlier report said more than 10 people were killed in the blasts. Dozens more were wounded in the blasts, one of which was caused by a car bomb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. The monitor had initially reported eight deaths in the blasts. Surprise assault: Da’ish fighters kidnap 400 civilians in Syria It said the cause of the second blast was not immediately clear. State television carried a breaking news alert reporting “two terrorist blasts, one of them a car bomb, followed by a suicide bomber… in the area of Sayyida Zeinab.” Brazen assault: Seven killed as IS attacks Jakarta The Sayyida Zeinab mosque contains the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed and is particularly revered as a pilgrimage site by Shia Muslims. It has been targeted before, including in February 2015, when two suicide attacks killed four people and wounded 13 at a checkpoint near the shrine. Also that month, a blast ripped through a bus carrying Lebanese Shia pilgrims headed to Sayyida Zeinab, killing at least nine people, in an attack claimed by al Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front. =================================== Sun Jan 31, 2016 | 7:02 PM EST Syria opposition considers U.N. offer after 'positive' talks 1:52 PM EST | 01:41 Syrian peace efforts disrupted by deadly blast in Damascus Syria opposition considers U.N. offer after 'posit...X By Tom Miles and John Irish GENEVA (Reuters) - Syria's main opposition group is considering a proposal by U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura that could pave the way to the delegation pressing ahead with talks after holding their first meeting with him on Sunday, a Western diplomatic source said. Representatives of the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), which includes political and militant opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, had warned earlier in the day that they may yet walk away from the Geneva talks unless the suffering of civilians in the five-year conflict is eased. With Islamic State bombers killing over 60 people near the country's holiest Shi'ite shrine, the Syrian government's chief delegate retorted that the blasts in Damascus merely confirmed the link between the opposition and terrorism - even though Islamic State has been excluded from the talks. The United Nations is aiming for six months of talks that would focus on achieving a broad ceasefire, while working toward a political settlement to the civil war that has killed over 250,000 people, driven more than 10 million from their homes and drawn in global powers. After the HNC initially insisted air strikes and sieges of Syrian towns must end before it joins the "proximity talks", in which de Mistura would meet each side in separate rooms, there appeared to be some signs of a softening in their position on Sunday evening. HNC spokesman Salim al-Muslat described discussions with de Mistura as very positive and encouraging "concerning humanitarian issues." The delegation met for several hours later on Sunday to debate the proposal. The U.N. special envoy's office said he would meet the Syrian government delegation on Monday at 1100 (1000 GMT) and the HNC at 1700 (1600 GMT). "De Mistura made them a proposition, and that's tempting them to enter the negotiations. They are very prudent," a Western diplomatic source said, adding he was not aware of the content of the offer. The delegation representing the HNC is seeking a halt to attacks on civilian areas, the release of detainees and a lifting of blockades. It has a list of 3,000 women and children in Syrian government jails. The measures were mentioned in a Security Council resolution approved last month that endorsed the peace process for Syria. "They want tangible and visible things immediately. Things they can give to their grassroots," the source said. "Certain things aren't possible immediately like the end of the bombings, but the easiest is the release of civilians, women and children." "TOTAL" SIEGES U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the talks - the first in two years - as long overdue. "I urge all parties to put the people of Syria at the heart of their discussions, and above partisan interests," he said during a visit to Ethiopia. ADVERTISEMENT Related Coverage Oxfam report says some states in Syrian war fail to help victims In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged both sides to seize the opportunity to make progress. "In the end there is no military solution to the conflict," he said in a televised statement. The Syrian government's delegation head in Geneva, Bashar al-Jaafari, said Damascus was considering options such as ceasefires, humanitarian corridors and prisoner releases, but suggested they might come about as a result of the talks, not before them. "Absolutely, this is part of the agenda that we agreed upon and that will be one of the very important topics we will discuss among ourselves as Syrian citizens," Jaafari said. Russian air strikes have killed nearly 1,400 civilians since Moscow started its aerial campaign in support of Assad nearly four months ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Saturday. Opposition delegate Bassma Kodmani said the bombings had increased in the last week. "In preparations for the negotiations, everything has intensified. The sieges have become total," she said, adding later that her delegation was likely to stay at least three to four days in Geneva. On Sunday, the United Nations said that Mouadamiya, a rebel-held town of 45,000 on the southwestern edge of Damascus, faced a new siege by government forces. Moscow has objected to two Islamist rebel groups, Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, taking any part in the talks. However, a negotiator from Jaish al-Islam, Mohamed Alloush, told Reuters he was going to Geneva to show that the Syrian government was not serious about seeking a political solution. In another sign that talks may gather pace, the Western diplomat and a source close to the opposition said the HNC's main coordinator Riad Hijab could also arrive on Monday. ISLAMIC STATE CLAIM Islamic State claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks in the Sayeda Zeinab district of Damascus, according to Amaq, a news agency that supports the militant group. It said two operations "hit the most important stronghold of Shi'ite militias in Damascus." The Britain-based Observatory put the death toll at over 60, including 25 Shi'ite fighters.

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