Deadly bomb rocks wealthy Damascus district: NGO

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Beirut, Jan 21: A powerful explosion rocked the upscale Damascus district of Dumar on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding the blast caused an unknown number of deaths. Another blast, caused by a car bomb, targetted a building used by pro-regime militiamen in town of Salmiyeh in the central province of Hama, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding there were initial reports of casualties.

State news agency SANA also reported the second blast, saying that "a terrorist suicide car bomb was detonated in the heart of Salmiyeh, leaving a number of people killed and others wounded". Dumar is one of seven wealthier districts that straddle Damascus from northwest to southeast.

The rebel Free Syrian Army has no presence in these districts, which are populated by higher income groups who fear instability and want to preserve their economic interests. But even the heart of Damascus has not been spared the violence, having been hit by a series of spectacular attacks, mainly claimed by jihadist groups, including twin suicide car bombings that struck Umayyad Square in the city centre in September.

To operate in inner districts of Damascus at all, the rebels rely on rear bases in the outskirts of the city where the army is locked in a protracted battle to push them back. The blasts came as Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said the mission of the international peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has so far not even "yielded a glimmer of hope" to end the country's 22-month conflict. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict that erupted in March 2011 as a popular uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, according to UN figures.

AFP

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