Blast hits Damascus mosque, as Assad troops attack restive areas
At least six killed in what state television calls 'work of terrorists'; ahortly afterwards, another bomb went off in the Damascan district of Salahiyeh.
At least six people were killed Friday in an explosion at a mosque in the capital Damascus, according to state media, as the government launched a major offensive against pro-rebel areas around the city.
State television called the blast a "work of terrorists" and said it was caused by a bomb attached to a motorcycle which detonated after the Friday noon prayers. The deaths included five security personnel, according to the broadcaster.
A witness told dpa that the blast also destroyed a military vehicle and damaged other cars at the scene.
According to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. the blast targeted a security patrol in the district of Rukneddin in the north of Damascus.
Shortly afterwards, another bomb went off in the Damascan district of Salahiyeh, causing several casualties and apparently targeting Syrian soldiers, the London-based organization said.
A third blast occurred outside the Information Ministry and a neighboring office of the ruling al-Baath party in central Damascus, said state television. It reported no casualties.
Meanwhile, government troops bombarded restive areas on the outskirts of the capital, where activists reported that 45 bodies have been found across in total in the past 24 hours.
At least 49 others were killed in violence across Syria on Friday, said the opposition.
The President of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer, said the Syrian government had agreed to give relief workers access to areas affected by the violence in the country.
"President (Bashar) Assad agreed on the necessity of urgently boosting humanitarian aid by making it easier to bring in goods that would enable us to step up our activities and adequately respond to the needs that have been growing with gathering speed," Maurer said.
Maurer ended a three-day visit to Syria, which saw him tour areas around Damascus.
"I was shocked by the immense destruction of infrastructure and homes in several areas I visited," he said.
"And I was deeply moved by the stories of distraught children who lost their parents in the fighting," Maurer told a press conference in Geneva.
"The positive commitments I received during my meetings will obviously have to be followed up and tested in the coming weeks," said Maurer.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers chastised the United Nations Security Council for failing to present a united front on Syria.
"This is a real failure of the Security Council ... that the world community cannot find common ground to stop these atrocities and barbarities," Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Baseborn said as he arrived for an informal meeting with his counterparts in Cyprus.
Russia and China, key allies of Syria, have vetoed three UN resolutions condemning Assad's crackdown, which the opposition says has claimed more than 26,000 lives in the past 18 months.New international envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is expected in Egypt on Sunday for talks with Arab League officials and Syrian opposition politicians on how to resolve the crisis in the country.
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