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breaking news SYRIA

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breaking news SYRIA

Post  Admin on Sun 21 Feb 2016, 6:46 pm

Syria conflict: Homs and Damascus blasts kill more than 100
44 minutes ago
 From the section Middle East

Alan Johnston: "These were major attacks in Homs, two car bombs going off in a residential area"
Bomb blasts in the Syrian cities of Homs and Damascus have left more than 100 people dead, monitors and state media say.
In Homs, at least 57 people, mainly civilians, were killed in a double car bombing, a monitoring group reported.
At least four blasts later struck the southern Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab, causing at least 50 deaths, state media said.
So-called Islamic State has said it carried out the Damascus blasts.
Both Damascus and Homs have been targeted by Islamic State (IS) militants in the past.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said a "provisional agreement" has been reached with Russia on a partial truce in the conflict.
History of the conflict - how the civil war has spread
Maps of the conflict - the shifting territorial gains
Homs carnage
Both attacks targeted areas dominated by minorities within Islam reviled by the Sunni Muslim radicals of IS.
In Homs, the blasts happened in a predominantly Alawite district, the sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

In Damascus, at least four explosions were reported in Sayyida Zeinab, the location of Syria's holiest Shia Muslim shrine, said to contain the grave of the Prophet Muhammad's granddaughter.

State television reported at least 50 dead and 200 wounded. Other reports put the death toll higher.

Homs has fallen in and out of rebel control

The Homs attackers struck on Sunday morning
The neighbourhood in Homs where it happened has been frequently targeted
Homs, one of the early centres of the uprising against President Assad, was once dubbed the "capital of the revolution".
But rebels left the city late last year under a ceasefire deal, leaving the city in government hands.

An ambulance carries wounded from the site of the attacks in Sayyida Zeinab
The Amaq news agency, which is linked to the self-styled Islamic State, said IS militants had detonated a car bomb and then blown up explosive belts.
The district was hit by suicide attacks last month that left 71 people dead and which IS fighters also said they had carried out.
The Observatory also said that at least 50 Islamic State fighters had been killed in an advance by government troops, backed by Russian air strikes, east of the northern city of Aleppo in the past 24 hours.
'My duty'
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke optimistically about progress towards a possible ceasefire.
He had spoken to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, he said, and they had agreed on terms but details still needed to be worked out.
Earlier this month, world powers involved in Syria agreed to seek a "cessation of hostilities" but the Friday deadline has come and gone.

Map showing territorial control in the Syrian conflict

For his part, President Assad has said he hopes to be remembered as the man who "saved" Syria.
Asked by Spanish newspaper El Pais where he would see himself in 10 years' time, he said: "If Syria is safe and sound, and I'm the one who saved his country - that's my job now, that's my duty."
Mr Assad also said his army was close to encircling rebel-held parts of the key northern city of Aleppo, and were advancing on Raqqa, the main stronghold of IS fighters.
He said he was ready to implement a temporary truce as long as there were guarantees what he called "terrorists" would not use it to improve their positions.
Separately, Amnesty International has criticised Turkey for refusing entry to some Syrians wounded in the latest fighting, urging it to keep its border open.
Amnesty's crisis response director, Tirana Hassan, said: "Turkey's highly selective practice is appalling - only severely injured people are allowed entry to seek medical treatment while everyone else fleeing the violence is left unprotected."

Deadly bombing hits Syria's Homs amid talk of truce
Twin car bombing leaves at least 46 dead and more than 100 wounded even as US says a ceasefire is closer than ever.
21 Feb 2016 15:06 GMT | War & Conflict, Middle East, Syrian Civil War, Syria
Dozens of civilians have been killed in the Syrian city of Homs despite announcements suggesting that a temporary ceasefire is closer than ever.

Syria's state news agency SANA said Sunday's twin car bombing happened near the entrance to the city's al-Arman neighbourhood.

The attack killed at 46 people and wounded 110 more, Syrian officials said.

Homs is largely under government control and has regularly been targeted in bomb attacks.

Inside Story - Syria war: Will cessation of hostilities lead to talks?
The violence on the ground came on a day the US secretary of state said a "provisional agreement" had been reached on a ceasefire to end the Syrian conflict.

John Kerry, speaking in Amman alongside Nasser Judeh, Jordan's foreign minister, said he had spoken earlier that morning with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, about the agreement.

Now, he said, both the US and Russia planned to reach out to the various sides of the conflict.

Kerry said he hoped President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin would talk soon and implementation could begin after that.

He said the details such as enforcement still needed to be resolved, and that the international community was "closer to a ceasefire today than we have been".

The Russian foreign ministry confirmed that Lavrov and Kerry had spoken about conditions for a ceasefire in Syria on the telephone on Sunday.

It said discussions were on ceasefire conditions, which would exclude operations against organisations "recognised as terrorist by UN Security Council".
On Saturday, a number of Syrian opposition groups declared that they agree to the "possibility" of a temporary truce if President Bashar al-Assad's government and its allies respect several conditions, including halting fire.

The groups said they would agree provided there were guarantees that government forces and its allies would respect a ceasefire, sieges were lifted and aid deliveries permitted across the country.

The declaration came as fighting continued on the ground despite a Friday deadline for cessation of hostilities.

In depth: The politics of war crimes in Syria

The opposition factions "expressed agreement on the possibility of reaching a temporary truce deal, to be reached through international mediation", a statement from the High Negotiations Committee said.

It said the UN must guarantee "holding Russia and Iran and sectarian militias ... to a halt to fighting".

All sides should cease fire simultaneously and the government should release prisoners, the statement said.

For his part, Assad said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais on Saturday that he was ready to implement a ceasefire but only if the rebels and their international backers such as Turkey did not use it as a chance to gain ground.

The fighting in Syria started as an unarmed uprising against Assad in March 2011, but has since expanded into a full-on conflict that has killed more than 260,000 people, according to UN estimates.

Millions more have been displaced, having fled to neighbouring countries and Europe.

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