An explosion hit the Syrian capital as President Bashar al Assad was beginning peace talks with UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
The number of dead and wounded is currently unclear. The British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports ten dead and dozens wounded, while pro-government television reported seven dead and fifteen wounded. Many newspapers report thirteen dead and dozens wounded, but the source of these figures is unclear.
A reporter at the scene revealed how there was blood on the street, on the walls and on the pavement. Several shop windows were shattered and at least four cars burned out.
The bomb was detonated in the Bab Touma neighbourhood in Damascus, near a police station. The area itself is mainly inhabited by the Christian minority. So far no one has claimed to be behind the attack, but a majority of Syrian Christians have backed the government since the eruption of the rebellion 19 months ago.
Regarding the peace talks, the UN’s peace envoy Mr Lakhdar Brahimi said the President Bashar al-Assad had appreciated the mediation efforts, but was unwilling to commit to a ceasefire over the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha which will begin on Friday. He has said that the opposition groups have responded positively to his call for a truce, and that he has received “promises” but no “commitment” from the opposition for a cease-fire. He said he had received positive response for a ceasefire from President Bashar al-Assad’s opposition, and that “all of them have said that it’s a good idea which they support”.
The ceasefire is also supported by Turkey, an ally of the rebels, Iran, Russia – which backs the government, Iraq and Germany.