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Syria declares readiness for talks, armed opposition respond with blasts, fighting


09:40, February 26, 2013

DAMASCUS, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- As Syria declared Monday its readiness to talk with the opposition and all parties desirous of dialogue, the armed rebels on ground responded with a symphony of destruction, staging two blasts in an eastern suburb of the capital Damascus and attempting to attack a vital square.

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem proclaimed Monday his country's readiness to hold talks with all opposition parties desirous of dialogue, including the armed militias, while stressing the Syrian administration's resolution to combat terrorism.

Al-Moallem made the remarks during his visit to Moscow Monday before meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

The Syrian top diplomat said his government believes "in the peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis," adding that the government "opened the door for the overseas opposition to participate by providing facilitation and guarantee with the aim to hold a comprehensive national dialogue."

"All sides that are thinking objectively should know the importance of discussions as to reach a peaceful solution ... there is no acceptable alternative to a political solution," he was quoted by the state-run SANA news agency as saying.

After al-Moallem's remarks, Moaz al-Khatib, head of opposition Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group abroad, said he had not had any communication with any representatives of the Syrian administration regarding a dialogue.

"We have not been in contact yet, and we are waiting for communication with them," al-Khatib told reporters in Cairo Monday.

On ground, two suicide car bombers detonated their explosive- laden vehicles at the eastern suburb of al-Qaboun in the capital Damascus Monday night.

The first blast struck near a military checkpoint at the entrance of al-Qaboun, as the second one rocked near a bus station in an adjacent area, activists said, adding that the blasts were followed by intense clashes between the rebels and the government troops at the eastern part of Damascus.

SANA reported the occurrence of one blast only and said that it shook the vicinity of the Khumasieh company in al-Qaboun, adding that unspecified number of people were killed or injured.

Meanwhile, activists' networks said the blast targeted a military checkpoint at the entrance of al-Qaboun and was followed by intense shooting that could be heard across several districts of the capital, placing the death toll of the blast at 10.

Minutes after the explosion, witnesses in nearby districts told Xinhua that "the rattling sound of clashes and shelling have reached God," adding that the blast was followed by armed rebels' attack from different hotspots near al-Qaboun on the Abbasyeen Square.

A couple of hours later, witnesses reached by phone told Xinhua that the sound of clashes had almost disappeared but could still be heard from a distance.

Some online news websites said the Syrian troops responded to rebels' wide-scale offensive, killing many of them.

On Thursday, a powerful blast rocked a busy intersection of Damascus and claimed the lives of 56 people.

The government accuses radical groups affiliated with al-Qaida of being behind the series of explosions that have been rocking Syria over the past year.

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