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The Latest: State media report 2nd bomb blast in Damascus

March 15, 2017
Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the developments in Syria and peace talks that have been extended in Kazakhstan (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

Syrian state media is reporting a second bomb blast in Damascus, after an earlier suicide attack killed at least 25 people in the capital's main judicial building.

The SANA news agency said a second suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant in the city's Rabweh district, killing several people.

The Ikhbariyeh TV channel said the attacker was being chased by security agents when he dove into a restaurant and detonated his explosives vest.

There was no immediate claim to either attack.

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2:25 p.m.

The U.N. health agency says over half of all hospitals and public health centers in Syria have closed or are partially functioning after six years of war, and nearly two-thirds of health-care workers have fled.

The head of the World Health Organization's emergencies program, Peter Salama, says resources to help the health care system are "stretched to the limit," citing security threats to health care workers and a lack of access to medicines and medical equipment.

Syrians on Wednesday marked the sixth anniversary of Syria's civil war that has left hundreds of thousands dead.

Salama called for "systematic and unhindered access" for life-saving materials like vaccines and medical supplies "on this sad anniversary of the start of war in Syria and before more lives are lost."

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2:05 p.m.

Syrian state-owned television says at least 25 people have been killed after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives' vest inside the main judicial building in the capital Damascus.

The TV says many other people were wounded in Wednesday's attack, the latest in a spate of bombings and suicide attacks targeting government-controlled areas of Syria.

The bombing took place inside the Justice Palace, located near the famous and crowded Hamidiyeh market in Damascus.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

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1:40 p.m.

Syrian TV says that a suicide bomber has detonated his explosives' vest inside the main judicial building in the capital of Damascus, causing an unspecified number of casualties.

The report says the bombing took place inside the Justice Palace on Wednesday afternoon, and that the explosion killed and wounding people who were at the scene. The Judicial Palace is near the famous and crowded Hamidiyeh market in Damascus.

The blast follows twin attacks on Saturday that killed at least 40 people in Damascus. That attack was claimed by the Syria's al-Qaida branch, formerly known as the Nusra Front.

There was no immediate claim for Wednesday's bombing.

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1:30 p.m.

Syria's U.N. ambassador says he is concluding his participation in the latest round of talks with Russia and Iran in the Kazakh capital of Astana after two days of meetings without rebels.

Bashar Jaafari says discussions were "constructive" but only one official paper was produced, about demining Palmyra, the historic Syrian town that pro-government forces recaptured from the Islamic State group two weeks ago.

Syrian rebels did not send any delegates to this third round of talks, accusing the government and Russia — one of Damascus' main backers — of breaking cease-fire pledges and obligations to distribute humanitarian aid.

The Astana talks, brokered by Russia and Turkey, are centered on reaching a cease-fire in Syria and getting humanitarian relief to millions of suffering civilians. They run parallel to the U.N.-mediated political talks in Geneva aimed at ending Syria's civil war.

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11:20 a.m.

An official from one of Syria's rebel factions has denied reports that rebels will send representatives to the present round of talks with the Syrian government underway in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Mamoun Haj Mousa, from the Suqour al-Sham Brigade, says there are no plans for factions to attend the talks — contrary to reports by the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry.

Another opposition official, Yahya al-Aridi, said of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry announcement: "Let them say what they wish."

The Astana talks, brokered by Russia and Turkey, are centered on reaching a cease-fire in Syria and getting humanitarian relief to millions of suffering civilians. They run parallel to the U.N.-mediated political talks in Geneva aimed at ending Syria's civil war.

Rebels announced earlier this week they would not attend Astana because of repeated cease-fire violations by the government.

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9:10 a.m.

Kazakhstan says peace talks in the capital, Astana, over ending the fighting in Syria have been extended and will be attended by representatives of Syrian rebel forces.

"We expect the arrival of representatives from the Northern and Southern fronts of the armed Syrian opposition," Foreign Ministry spokesman Onuar Zhainakov said Wednesday, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.

Syrian rebels had previously boycotted this third summit in Astana, citing the government's continued bombardment of opposition-held areas in Homs and Damascus.

A government delegation led by Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari, began meetings Tuesday with Russian officials in Astana.

Talks in Astana are running parallel to political talks in Geneva between the government and the opposition. The Astana talks are centered on cease-fire and humanitarian efforts, but have brought few results.

 
 

 

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