Terrorists Attack Chemical Inspectors’ Hotel, Syrian TV, Kidnap Red Cross Workers

sy_3Two cars laden with explosives and driven by suicide bombers blew up in the center of the Syrian capital Damascus on Sunday night, state media reported.

“Two terrorist car bombs driven by suicide bombers detonated at the entrance of Ummayed Square,” the official SANA news agency and state television reported, without specifying if there were any casualties.

The blasts went off near the building of the national broadcaster, with a state television reporter on the ground saying a concrete barrier outside it had been damaged but the facility was largely intact.

Footage of the scene broadcast by the government-run al-Ikhbariya TV showed fires burning and smoke rising over the site as firefighters worked to put them out.

The reporter made no mention of any injuries in the blast, saying only that “there were some human remains at the scene, likely those of a suicide bomber.”
The explosions occurred only a few kilometers from the hotel where a team of international experts from the Organization from the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations are staying.
One more blast targeted the Four Seasons Hotel, where the foreign chemical weapons experts are staying.
Nineteen inspectors from the United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] are currently working in Syria, investing the use of chemical weapons during the country’s ongoing civil war.

Meanwhile, militants abducted six Red Cross workers and a Syrian Red Crescent volunteer after stopping their convoy early Sunday in northwestern Syria, a spokesman said.

Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus, said the assailants snatched the seven aid workers from their convoy near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province around 11:30 a.m. local time as the team was returning to Damascus. He declined to provide the nationalities of the six ICRC employees, and said it was not clear who was behind the attack.
Syria’s state news agency, quoting an anonymous official, said the gunmen opened fire on the ICRC team’s four vehicles before seizing the Red Cross workers.
Schorno said the team of seven had been in the field since Oct. 10 to assess the medical situation in the area and to look at how to provide medical aid. He said the part of northern Syria where they were seized “by definition is a difficult area to go in,” and the team was traveling with armed guards.
Outside Damascus, hundreds of civilians, some carried on stretchers, fled the besieged armed groups-held suburb of Moadamiyeh on Saturday and Sunday following a temporary cease-fire in the area, activists and officials said.
“It’s (been) an area of military operations for months, so to see this halt of fire, and to see this exodus of people, means there’s a high level cooperation – not regular cooperation,” said Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, affiliated to Syria’s opposition.

Syria’s state news agency SANA said Saturday that 2,000 women and children left the suburb for temporary housing in the nearby suburb of Qudsaya.
An official with the Syrian Red Crescent, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said another 1,000 people were evacuated Sunday.

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