DAMASCUS, - A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb in eastern Syriaon Saturday killing nine people, as G8 leaders called for a"political transition" in Syria and an end to violence that hasclaimed an estimated 12,000 lives. The G8 - which includes long-time Syrian-ally Russia - called for a"Syrian-led, inclusive political transition leading to ademocratic, plural political system." The group, huddled at Camp David, outside Washington, also calledon the Syrian government and all parties to "immediately and fullyadhere" to an internationally-backed plan to end violence. "We remain appalled by the loss of life, humanitarian crisis, andserious and widespread human rights abuses in Syria," a jointstatement said. "The Syrian government and all parties must immediately and fullyadhere to commitments to implement the six-point plan of UN andArab League Joint Special Envoy... Kofi Annan." That, they said, includes "immediately ceasing all violence." But Russia, a key ally of Syria, said there could be no regimechange through force. |
"One has to give an opportunity to the Syrians to sort out theiraffairs themselves," the Kremlin's Africa envoy, Mikhail Margelovtold reporters in Washington. "You cannot use an ax to shear your way through the Syrian crisis,you have to use a pair of pincers to somehow sort it out." The suicide bombing was the first of its kind in Deir Ezzor,eastern Syria's biggest city, since an anti-regime uprising brokeout last year, and at least 24 other people were reportedly killedelsewhere in the country. Among the dead were a woman and her two children gunned down in thenorthern city of Aleppo and a 10-year-old girl killed by gunfire inthe southern province of Daraa, said the Syrian Observatory forHuman Rights. A "terrorist suicide bomber" used 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) ofexplosives in the attack on the Deir Ezzor neighbourhood of GhaziAyyash, said state television. The powerful explosion left a crater 3.5 metres (yards) deep anddamaged buildings within a radius of 100 metres, the channel said.
It occurred on a road housing a military and air force intelligenceheadquarters and a military hospital, according to the Observatory. There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing but, astypically happens in such cases, the opposition blamed it on theregime of President Bashar al-Assad. Elsewhere, a rocket slammed into the ruling Baath party's officesin Aleppo province, the Observatory said, a day after unprecedentedanti-regime protests in the provincial capital of the same name. "Unidentified gunmen targeted a Baath party office in Aleppo'sAl-Bab town with a rocket-propelled grenade," said theBritain-based watchdog.
In Homs, sniper fire killed a civilian and blasts were heard asshells rained down on the flashpoint central city, the Observatorysaid, adding that four deserters and eight regime troops were amongthose killed Saturday. The bombing in Deir Ezzor came a day after regime forces foiled awould-be car bombing in the same city, which is about 110kilometres (70 miles) from the Iraqi border. The government has repeatedly blamed bomb attacks on "armedterrorist groups" and Al-Qaeda. G8 leaders have been meeting since Friday outside Washington, withmuch of their discussions focused on the bloodshed in Syria andIran's contested nuclear programme. Obama said on Saturday that the G8 agreed that the politicalprocess in Syria should move forward "in a more timely fashion." "We had a discussion about Syria, we all believe that a peacefulresolution and a political transition in Syria is preferable,"Obama said flanked by leaders of the G8 industrialised nations.
What started out as a popular uprising has over time developed intoan increasingly militarised revolt, after Assad's regime used forceto crack down on peaceful protests. With the killings unabated, UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan plansto return to Damascus soon to further efforts to find a peacefulsolution to the crisis, but a date has yet to be announced. Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on Saturday told theircitizens to avoid travel to Syria's neighbour Lebanon, wheresectarian clashes linked to the conflict have left 10 people dead. Syria's foreign ministry, meanwhile, charged that the string of USand EU sanctions slapped on Damascus over its brutal crackdown ondissent was tantamount to "economic terrorism". The sanctions amount to "a violation of the fundamental principlesof human rights" and interference in the domestic affairs of Syria,the ministry said in a statement.
According to the Syrian Observatory, more than 12,000 people havebeen killed in Syria since the revolt broke out in March 2011, mostof them civilians.
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