Deadly Syria violence, Turkey sends missiles to border | Pakistan Today

Deadly Syria violence, Turkey sends missiles to border

Twin bombs exploded outside the Palace of Justice in Damascus on Thursday as deadly violence raged across the country and Turkey deployed missile batteries along its border with Syria.
With fighting in the 16-month-old revolt increasingly focusing on the capital, world powers were preparing for a crucial meeting on ways to end the conflict and to discuss a plan by peace envoy Kofi Annan for an interim government.
The meeting in Geneva, only agreed after wrangling between Moscow and Washington over the agenda and the guest list, is to be attended by some regional governments but not by rival Middle East heavyweights Iran and Saudi Arabia. Russia poured cold water on Saturday’s meeting, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying Moscow backs a political transition in Syria but rejects Western pressure for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.
Three people were wounded when the bombs exploded in the car park outside the court complex in central Damascus, state media reported. A police source told AFP that two magnetic bombs exploded in two judges’ cars and that a third was being defused.
State television showed footage of heavy smoke rising from the site as firefighters battled the flames. Elsewhere, violence killed at least 69 people, including 38 civilians, on Thursday after one of the bloodiest days of the 15-month revolt left nearly 150 dead, a watchdog said.
Eighteen civilians were killed in the northern Damascus suburb of Douma when troops surrounded it and clashed with rebel fighters, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that 12 were from the same family.
Thursday’s death toll also included 23 soldiers and eight rebels, said the watchdog, adding that that regime forces, backed by helicopters, pounded several areas of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
Of the more than 15,804 people killed since the uprising against Assad’s rule broke out in March last year, nearly 4,700 have died since April 12, when a UN-backed ceasefire was supposed to have taken effect, the Observatory says.
On Wednesday at least 149 people were killed – one of the bloodiest day of the conflict – said the Observatory.
Turkey, meanwhile, has sent missile batteries, tanks and troops to the border with Syria as a “security corridor,” after Syrian shot down a Turkish military jet last on Friday, media reports said.
There was no official confirmation, but state-run TRT television showed dozens of military vehicles loaded with army personnel reportedly on the move for the volatile border, in a convoy that included low-altitude air defence systems and anti-aircraft guns.
About 30 military vehicles accompanied by a truck towing missile batteries left a base in the southeastern province of Hatay for the border, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) away, the Milliyet newspaper reported. The Turkish Phantom F-4 jet was downed by Syrian fire over the eastern Mediterranean in what Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said was a “heinous attack” in international waters. Diplomats at the United Nations revealed on Wednesday that Annan is proposing setting up a Syrian transitional government to include representatives of both sides in the conflict.
The proposed interim authority would exclude officials whose presence might jeopardise the transition “or undermine efforts to bring reconciliation,” according to a summary given by one UN diplomat.
“The language of Annan’s plan suggests that Assad could be excluded but also that certain opposition figures could be ruled out,” said another UN diplomat.

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