UN peace envoy says Damascus bombings killed 100

BEIRUT – At least 100 people have been killed in four bombings across Damascus in one of the bloodiest days in the Syrian capital since the eruption of armed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011.

The toll in the Thursday bombings was confirmed by international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi who described the blasts as a “war crime”.

The number of the dead given by Brahimi Friday was grimly higher than the 61 given by Syrian activists after a suicide bomber staged the attack near the entrance to President Bashar al-Assad’s ruling party offices.

Brahimi said he “strongly condemns the savage and horrible explosion in Damascus yesterday, which resulted in the killing of around 100 and the injuring of 250 civilians.

“Nothing could justify such horrible actions that amount to war crimes under international law,” the UN-Arab League envoy added in a statement.

Brahimi called last month for the UN Security Council to set up an independent international investigation for “such crimes” in Syria.

Assad’s government and the opposition have blamed “terrorists” for the attack near the headquarters of the ruling Ba’ath party.

Children from a nearby school and Nayef Hawatmeh, leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were among more than 250 people reportedly injured in the blast in the Mazra’a district of the capital.

The explosion also damaged the Russian embassy.

Sana, the state news agency, said the perpetrators were supported by “America, Zionism and some Gulf states”.

The explosion shattered windows and sent up a huge plume of smoke that was visible across much of Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, quoting figures it said were compiled from hospitals and other medical sources, said at least 60 of the total dead were killed in the powerful car bomb blast.

The others were killed in three coordinated bombings in the north-eastern district of Barzeh, the Britain-based group said.

In addition to the violence in the capital, more than 200 people were killed elsewhere including in the Damascus suburbs, the southern city of Deraa and northern commercial hub of Aleppo, bringing Thursday’s death to around 300 – one of the highest in a single day, the Observatory said.

The United Nations says 70,000 people have died in Syria’s conflict.

Russia, a close ally of Assad’s, accused the United States Friday of having double standards over the violence in Syria, saying Washington had blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the Mazraa car bomb.

“We see in it a very dangerous tendency by our American colleagues to depart from the fundamental principle of unconditional condemnation of any terrorist act, a principle which secures the unity of the international community in the fight against terrorism,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“It is time to end this two-year conflict. Neither party can afford a military solution because this is a path to nowhere, a path toward mutual extermination among the people,” Lavrov said.

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