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Iran Correspondent Killed In Damascus

Smoke rises from the site of explosions in central Damascus on September 26.
Smoke rises from the site of explosions in central Damascus on September 26.
By RFE/RL
Iran says sniper fire in Damascus has killed a reporter for its English-language Press TV and wounded the Damascus bureau chief of Press TV and Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam channel.

The killing of Maya Nasser and wounding of Hussein Mortada came after two large bombs exploded in the capital near the military general staff headquarters.

Syria's Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said there were no casualties from the bombs, one of which may have been placed "on the inner side of the fence" around the building in central Umayyad Square.

The rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the twin bombings.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blasts, just 15 minutes apart, were followed by automatic weapons fire.

Damascus is increasingly becoming a battleground in the 19-month-old conflict in Syria.

Separately, international debate over how to stop the violence in Syria continues.

French President Francois Hollande said on September 25 that France is interested in finding ways to help protect areas reportedly held by Syrian rebels.

"There are now -- and it's different than it was a few months or weeks ago -- there are now areas which are held by the opposition forces or have been reconquered by the people or where the Damascus government has withdrawn," Hollande said. "So we know about the situation there and we have to start to protect those zones."

He was speaking at a news conference in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the UN General Assembly on September 25 that the Syrian conflict had become "a regional calamity with global ramifications." He called for global action to halt the bloodshed.

President Barack Obama pledged U.S. support for Syrians trying to oust President  Bashar al-Assad, while the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, said Arab countries should intervene "in order to guarantee a peaceful transition of power in Syria."

However, the UN Security Council has been unable to act on Syria due to Russian and Chinese opposition. Both Moscow and Beijing have consistently vetoed draft resolutions to introduce sanctions on Damascus or call on the Syrian leader to step down.


With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP

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