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State TV reports 6 dead in Damascus 'terrorist' blast

From the CNN Wire Staff
September 8, 2012 -- Updated 0058 GMT (0858 HKT)
  • Up to 130 deaths are reported in the country Friday, the opposition says
  • State TV reports blasts and deaths in Damascus
  • The United Nations reports burgeoning refugee numbers
  • Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, appoints a Damascus representative

(CNN) -- The heavy fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels across the country left dozens more dead on Friday. The 18-month-long conflict continues to uproot civilians and cause humanitarian nightmares, aid groups say.

Here are the latest developments in the spiraling conflict:

State TV reports blasts, deaths in Damascus

Syrian state media reported blasts in the capital of Damascus on Friday, including one with fatalities.

It said a booby-trapped motorcycle caused a "terrorist" blast while worshipers were leaving Al-Rukniya mosque in Damascus, killing six security personnel and civilians and injuring others in the capital's Rukneddin neighborhood.

And, a rigged car exploded between the Palace of Justice and the Ministry of Information in the neighborhood of al-Mazza. Cars and buildings were damaged.

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Heavy exchanges of gunfire were heard in the neighborhood of Tadamun and at the Yarmouk Camp, the largest Palestinian refugee community in Syria, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) staff member and his son, a medical student, were killed Thursday when shells hit their residence in Yarmouk. The agency said three Palestinian refugees were killed by shells the day before.

Explosions rocked the Damascus suburb of al-Qazzaz, the scene of intense seesaw fighting in recent months as rebels battle for control of portions of the capital city.

Of the 130 people reported killed Friday in fighting in flashpoint cities across the country, at least 40 died in Damascus and its suburbs, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, another opposition group. Fifteen children were among the dead, it said. Many deaths also occurred in Aleppo and Deir Ezzor.

U.N. addresses widespread displacement in Syria

The U.N. refugee agency said it is bulking up efforts to help displaced people inside Syria.

The group is seeking financial assistance for 200,000 people, as well as household items and medical assistance. It also wants to counsel displaced people, rehabilitate shelters and encourage displaced children to return to school, which starts this month.

People continue to flee to neighboring countries. There are now 246,267 Syrian refugees registered or awaiting registration with the United Nations: 81,456 in Jordan, 64,636 in Lebanon, 21,744 in Iraq and 78,431 in Turkey, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

The journey to other countries has been perilous for many. Several families arriving in Lebanon reported being shot at while crossing the border into Wadi Khaled. They said an 11-year-old girl was killed in the process.

Agencies focus on health care, infrastructure, lack of food and water

Syria's humanitarian crisis is stoking international concern

"Since the conflict erupted there have been many casualties," said Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, "and now the situation is rapidly deteriorating even further."

Maurer toured rural Damascus suburbs and said he was "shocked" by the damaged infrastructure and "deeply moved by the stories of distraught children who lost their parents in the fighting."

"Health workers face tremendous difficulties in performing their duties. Many men, women and children who could be saved are dying on a daily basis because they lack access to medical care."

Maurer said he met with President Bashar al-Assad and several of his ministers during a three-day visit.

"I also discussed with President al-Assad our outstanding request to visit all persons detained in Syria in connection with the current events -- persons held in all facilities, including those managed by the security authorities and those used for interrogation. President al-Assad expressed his readiness to address this issue," Maurer said. "Since March 2011, tens of thousands of people have been detained in the country. Their basic rights must be upheld and they must be able to get in touch with their families."

"The positive commitments I received during my meetings will obviously have to be followed up and tested in the coming weeks," Maurer said.

The United Nations on Friday raised a humanitarian appeal for Syria to $347 million.

On its website, it said the "revised Syria Humanitarian Response Plan focuses on the priority areas of health, food, livelihoods, infrastructure rehabilitation, community services, education and shelter, in Homs, Hama, Idlib, Damascus, rural Damascus, Deir Ezzor and Aleppo, as well as areas hosting large numbers of internally displaced people."

The European Commission, meanwhile, said it is preparing to release an additional €50 million (nearly $64 million) in humanitarian funding. It would provide for health care, shelter, food, water, and sanitation for displaced people.

Canadian diplomat representing U.N. point man in Damascus

Lakhdar Brahimi, the new U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, has appointed a Canadian diplomat as his representative in Damascus.

Mokhtar Lamani, originally from Morocco, will be a liaison for Brahimi, Ahmad Fawzi, the envoy's spokesman, said Friday.

Lamani was the Arab League's special representative and envoy to Iraq between 2006 and 2007, he said.

CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali, Joe Sterling and Joseph Netto contributed to this report.

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