Sun, March 18, 2012
World > Middle East

Violence persists as UN team visits Syria

2012-03-18 05:49:58 GMT2012-03-18 13:49:58(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

DAMASCUS, March 18 (Xinhua) -- Soon after two deadly bombings killed dozens of people here Saturday, another car bomb exploded in Damascus ahead of the expected arrival of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's monitoring team.

Two "terrorists" were killed when their bomb-laden car exploded at the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk area south of the capital, Syrian state TV said, without giving further details.

Meanwhile, the Doha-based pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV quoted sources as saying that the blast targeted a brigadier of the Syrian army, who was killed along with three Palestinians.

The incident came shortly after two bombings hit the Syrian capital in swift succession, killing at least 27 people and injuring 140 others. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the deadly attacks and called for "all violence to cease immediately."

Following the twin blasts, the Syrian interior ministry warned that authorities would not waver in dealing "decisively" with anyone who would compromise the security and stability of the country.

"Those terrorist acts" were an integral part of the campaign targeting the Syrian people's security and stability, the ministry said, adding that the bombings came at a time when some regional and international powers were calling explicitly for sending in arms to Syria.

It called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities to stand by the Syrian people and work to halt all attempts that aim to destabilize the country.

In Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voiced support for the Syrian people's decision on their leadership and again urged a ceasefire and political talks in the violence-wracked country.

"Russia will support any agreement based on outcomes of a general political dialogue between the government and all opposition groups," he said.

Lavrov also said his proposal to end all violence in Syria was not only for President Bashar al-Assad but also for the "more militarized" rebel groups.

He also urged Syria to support Annan's peacemaking efforts "without delay," adding that "we will expect the same from the armed and political opposition."

Annan said Friday in Geneva that the UN team would leave for Damascus on Monday and discuss setting up an international monitoring mission for Syria.

In the face of the volatile international and domestic situations, five Syrian opposition groups on Saturday announced the formation of a new coalition, thus breaking away from the major Syrian National Council (SNC).

The new coalition comprises the liberal National Movement for Change, the Islamist Movement for the Fatherland, the Bloc for Liberation and Development, the Turkmen National Bloc and the Kurdish Movement for a New Life.

Imamduddin al-Rashid, head of the Islamist Movement for the Fatherland, said the SNC, founded last August to overthrow the government, is a temporary structure which will dissolve over time.

The new coalition, he added, is a long-term entity that will be there even after the "liberation" of Syria.

The SNC, as the umbrella opposition group, is often criticized by activists for its lack of unity, transparency and connection to the protesters on the ground.

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