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Bombing In Syrian Capital Kills More Than A Dozen People

Syrian government security officers after a blast in the Marjeh district of Damascus on Tuesday.
Syrian government security officers after a blast in the Marjeh district of Damascus on Tuesday.

Syrian state TV is reporting that a bomb blast in Damascus has killed at least 13 people, a day after the country's prime minister narrowly escaped a car bomb.

The Associated Press reports:

"The bombings appear to be part of an accelerated campaign by opposition forces seeking to topple President Bashar Assad to strike at his heavily protected seat of power. ...

"Syrian TV said Tuesday's explosion was caused by a 'terrorist bombing' in the district of Marjeh, a commercial area in central Damascus. Assad's regime refers to opposition fighters as 'terrorists.' "

The latest attack in the Syrian capital comes a day after Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi's convoy was targeted by a remotely triggered bomb and amid increasing international concern that Syria may have used chemical weapons against the opposition. A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows 62 percent of Americans oppose U.S. intervention in Syria, while 24 percent think the United States has an obligation to act.

In an interview on NPR's Morning Edition, Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group says that while the White House has claimed it has some evidence for Syria's use of the deadly chemical agent sarin, "we're still not quite at the point where they could make a conclusive case."

"I think it's understandable certainly in the case of the United States to have a pretty high threshold," Malley says. "First, it's always hard to establish such claims, particularly when you're at a distance."

He says the question is not necessarily how Washington might intervene in Syria to stop the fighting that has killed an estimated 70,000 people, but whether such an intervention would help the Syrian opposition and serve U.S. interests.

Arming the opposition, a no-fly zone or airstrikes against airfields and delivery systems all can be done, Malley notes.

"The U.S. certainly has the means to do them," he says. "That's not the question — the question is whether they would have a positive impact in Syria and whether they would serve U.S. national interests."

He says France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all have a slightly different point of view on Syria.

"A number of them are saying, 'We will do what you want' — you, the United States — 'if you take the lead,' which ends up being a game where each side says, 'You go first,' " Malley adds. " Some countries are more eager to see some action; others are more worried."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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