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At Least 45 Killed in Syria Bombing Attack

BEIRUT The Latest on the deadly explosion in a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus

Official news agency Sana said the first blast was caused by a auto bomb that detonated at a bus station near the shrine, which both Iran and Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah have vowed to defend. Earlier the Interior Ministry had reported at least 45 dead and 110 people wounded, while state television showed footage of burning buildings and wrecked cars in the neighbourhood. The golden-domed Shiite shrine itself was not damaged. A source familiar with the incident told Xinhua that 76 people were killed in the explosions, adding that the death toll could rise as tens of wounded people were critical. 

The bombings were "clearly aimed to disrupt the attempts to start a political process" in Geneva, said European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Since the conflict began in March 2011, more than 260,000 people have been killed and half of the country's population have fled their homes, with millions exiled to neighbouring countries and beyond. Following a courtesy visit to the hotel of the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Mr de Mistura said, "I am optimistic and determined because it's an historic occasion not to be missed". "We are here for political negotiations, but we can not start those until we have those gestures", she said. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on parties to the Geneva talks to give up their preconditions and warned the Bashar al-Assad regime to stop starving people in besieged cities. 

The opposition delegation is to meet with de Mistura later Sunday, al-Mislet said. Читайте также: Trump holds rally in Quad Cities for one final stop before Caucus But the body insisted it will not engage in formal negotiations with the Syrian government until UN Security Council resolutions requiring an end to sieges of towns are adhered to. But Bashar Ja'afari, the head of the Syrian delegation, criticized the opposition in remarks to reporters. But the ongoing fighting has cast a fresh shadow on the negotiations as dozens were killed in multiple bomb attacks in the Syrian capital, Damascus, claimed by IS militants. Since the beginning of 2015, the Syrian government approved only 13 of 113 requests made by the United Nations to deliver humanitarian aid, Kerry said. Information Minister Omar al-Zoubi's comments to state TV late Saturday came as the main opposition delegation arrived in Geneva. 

Another thorny issue is which rebel groups will be involved in the talks, although all sides agree on the exclusion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and the al-Nusra Front tied to al-Qaeda. Alloush told AP he is heading to Geneva for the talks. Islamic State has been excluded from the talks as the United Nations has classified it a terrorist group. Russian Federation began its air campaign September 30, saying its strikes are meant to weaken IS and other "terrorists" in Syria, but Western officials and Syrian rebels say most of the strikes have focused on central and northern Syria, where IS does not have a strong presence.

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