Car bomb in Syria kills at least 15
Oct 14, 2013 / 8:26 am
A car bomb in a rebel-held town in northwestern Syria killed at least 15 people and wounded dozens in a crowded outdoor market Monday, setting cars on fire and sending people running in panic, two activist groups said.
The bomb went off in the town of Darkoush in Idlib province, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees. The marketplace was busy with shoppers on the eve of Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday.
The Observatory put the death toll at 27, while the Committees said only 15 were killed. Such discrepancies often occur in the aftermath of such attacks.
An amateur video posted on the LCC's Facebook page shows several cars on fire in a street full of debris. People are seen running in panic as smoke billows from the area, and several shops and apartment buildings appear heavily damaged. Another video shows men carrying two bodies and placing them in a blanket. The videos appeared genuine and corresponded to AP reporting on the events.
Car bombs are becoming more common in Syria's civil war, now in its third year. The conflict has killed more than 100,000 people.
On Sunday, two car bombs exploded near the state TV building in Damascus. The SANA news agency said the TV's headquarters in Umayyad Square was damaged in the blast, but there was no word on casualties.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva confirmed Monday that three of its employees and one from the Syrian Red Crescent were released, a day after being kidnapped by gunmen in Idlib province. The fate of three other ICRC employees who were also kidnapped Sunday was not immediately known.
Much of the Idlib countryside and other parts of northern and eastern Syria have fallen under the control of rebels, many of them Islamic extremists. Kidnappings have become common, particularly of aid workers and foreign journalists.
The intensity of the conflict has not abated in the past two weeks, even as inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons press on with their work to destroy the country's chemical weapons stockpile.
On Friday, the watchdog agency working to eliminate chemical weapons around the world won the Nobel Peace Prize in a powerful endorsement of its Syria mission.
The mission stems from a deadly Aug. 21 attack on opposition-held suburbs of Damascus in which the U.N. determined the nerve agent sarin was used. Hundreds of people were killed, including many children. The West says the Syrian government was responsible, while Damascus blames the rebels.
Monday marked the date that Syria formally joined the OPCW, 30 days after submitting its application at the United Nations.
In an interview with the Lebanese Al-Akbar newspaper, Syrian President Bashar Assad was quoted Monday as saying that his country stopped manufacturing chemical agents in 1997 because they became an "outdated deterrent." He said Syria has since concentrated on its missile capabilities.
Damascus is believed to have thousands of long-range missiles that can reach targets almost anywhere inside Israel, its arch enemy.
In the interview, Assad said that ridding Syria of its chemical weapons would present "neither a moral nor a political loss."
"Developing Syria's missile deterrent force that can be used from the first moments of war ended the necessity of chemical weapons,' Assad was quoted as saying.
Asked about the OPCW getting the Nobel prize, Assad attempted an apparent joke, saying, "this prize should have been mine."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.N-Arab League envoy for Syria said an international conference to set up a Syrian transitional government must be organized and held as soon as possible.
Kerry said Syria urgently needs a transitional government and that it is imperative to get the so-called "Geneva II" conference organized by a mid-November target.
He also said Assad "has lost the legitimacy to be able to be a cohesive force that could bring people together."
However, it's not clear if the Syrian political opposition will attend.
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