Syrian blasts kill more than 100, as Kerry says progress toward cease-fire – USA TODAY

11 months ago Comments Off on Syrian blasts kill more than 100, as Kerry says progress toward cease-fire – USA TODAY

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for Syrian explosions Sunday that killed 50 people outside Damascus, as Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. and Russia reached a “provisional agreement” on  terms for a cease-fire that could begin in a few days.

Syrian state TV said 200 people were also wounded in the blasts that targeted a vegetable market during the afternoon rush hour.

Earlier in the day, a double-car bombing in the central Syrian city of Homs killed at least 57 people, according to the Britain-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Reuters described the scene in Homs as widespread devastation with charred corpses, damaged store fronts, cars on fire, plumes of black smoke and wounded or dazed people walking through the area.

It remains unclear who was responsible for that attack, although Islamic State has conducted bomb attacks in Homs before.

Kerry, speaking in Amman with Jordan’s foreign minister, was hopeful about new momentum in negotiations to halt the hostilities in war-torn Syria.

“I do believe that in the next few days, during which time we try to bring this into effect, there is somehow going to be a tipping point,” Kerry said at a news conference.

A possible cease-fire negotiated earlier by the U.S. and Russia was supposed to go into effect on Friday but did not happen.

Kerry said he spoke Sunday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about speeding up the process. Kerry said he expects Russia to talk with Iran and Syrian President Bashar Assad, while the U.S. would speak with opposition forces in Syria. He also expected President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the issue.

“A cease-fire requires an understanding of obligations,” Kerry told reporters. “You have to be specific about who is doing what, about what is required of each. … We are very clear that if you don’t choose to be part of it, then you are choosing to perhaps make yourself a target.”

Kerry said limited humanitarian aid has reached the suburbs of Damascus caught between warring factions where people are starving. Some 114 trucks full of aid have reached five areas in the past few days, he said.

Assad said Saturday that he was open to a cease-fire as long as “terrorists” did not use it as an opportunity to launch attacks, Reuters reported. A key opposition umbrella group, the High Negotiations Committee, also said Saturday it was could agree to stop fighting.

Syrian blasts kill more than 100, as Kerry says progress toward cease-fire – USA TODAY

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