Three dead in Damascus blasts as Britain reaches out to opposition
Two mortar explosions in Damascus have left at least three people dead and seven injured, Syria's official news agency reported Wednesday.
The blasts occurred in the capital's hilltop district of Mezze 86, which is mostly inhabited by Alwaites, a Shiite Muslim sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs, dpa reported.
"Heavy smoke shrouded the area, which is not far from the presidential palace," Haytham al-Abdulah, an activist, told dpa from Damascus.
The rebel Free Syrian Army said in a statement the attack had targeted the Mezze airport and the government headquarters in the area.
At least 11 people were killed in a car bombing in the same district on Monday, according to state media.
In London, meanwhile, a government spokesman said Britain was planning to hold direct talks with representatives of armed Syrian rebels in an attempt to unite the opposition to al-Assad's regime.
The talks would take place in Jordan and Turkey, said a spokesman for Downing Street. However, Britain would not be offering arms or military advice to Syrian rebels.
The comments came as Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Jordan on the latest stage of his visit to the Middle East, where he was due to hold talks with King Abdullah II and meet refugees from the Syrian conflict.
Britain is to increase its humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees to more than 50 million pounds (80 million dollars), making it the second largest donor after the United States, said the spokesman.
With little sign of the conflict abating, around 210 people were killed across Syria on Tuesday. The casualties included 37 in Damascus subrban areas, reported the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.