Blasts in Damascus amid low expectations from Geneva meeting
A bomb attack on Thursday was carried out in the courthouse in downtown Damascus, two days before an international meeting on the crisis. According to state television, "two bombs exploded in the parking lot of the courthouse in the area of Marje in Damascus. A third device failed to explode," said the channel, calling it a "terrorist" attack.
A police source said that two magnetic bombs exploded in two cars at the open air parking lot, while a third was being defused. Syrian television aired footage showing heavy black smoke coming off the parking lot, with many cars on fire and firefighters trying to extinguish the flames.
According to a Syrian NGO, nearly 150 people, mostly civilians, were killed on Wednesday.
The international mediator Kofi Annan proposed the establishment of a transitional government in order to find a political solution, a suggestion which will be discussed at the meeting of the Task Force on Syria Saturday in Geneva with major powers expected to attend including Russia, China, USA, United Kingdom, France.
But Moscow, the main ally of the Syrian regime on Thursday maintained its position opposing any solution imposed from abroad, particularly regarding the departure of Assad. "Russia can not support and will not support any solution imposed from abroad," insisted the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
He reiterated that the fate of the president, who continues to be supported by a portion of the population, must be decided by a Syrian national dialogue. On its part, the Syrian opposition denied Thursday any dialogue which will not lead to the departure of Mr. Assad. The idea of is to form a coalition government which would include supporters of Assad and members of the opposition.
For its part, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who meets her Russian counterpart Friday in St. Petersburg, sent to Mr. Annan "her support for the plan he presented", calling it a "very concrete road map for a political transition. "
Iran, a close ally of Damascus, was not invited to the meeting in Geneva despite the insistence of Moscow.