At Least 10 Dead After Explosions Rock Syrian Capital

Posted April 27th, 2012 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Two explosions rocked Damascus on Friday, leaving at least 10 people dead, as international concerns mount over Syria's deteriorating cease-fire.

One blast occurred near a mosque where anti-government protesters gather after Friday prayers. The government called it a suicide bombing orchestrated by “terrorists.”

Earlier, there was an explosion in a nearby industrial zone.

The violence came as thousands of protesters calling for President Bashar al-Assad's departure rallied in cities, including the flashpoints of Aleppo and Hama.

International criticism continued Friday from the U.S., the European Union and some U.N. officials who say Syria's has failed to abide by terms of a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.

During a news conference in India, U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon said he was “gravely alarmed” over Syria's rising death toll in spite of the government's repeated commitments to end violence.

Reuters news quotes a White House spokesman as saying the United States is “disappointed” about Syria's failure to live up to the peace plan and will continue to “ramp up international pressure” against Mr. Assad.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton expressed concern about Syria's failure to abide by the cease-fire.

Syria has said it will honor the truce and other elements of Mr. Annan's peace plan for the country, but will respond to attacks by foreign-backed “terrorists” whom, it says, are behind the 13-month opposition uprising.

Only a handful of U.N. monitors are currently in the country as part of the cease-fire deal. They deployed on Friday to hot spots of violence between government forces and rebels.

The U.N. estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's crackdown on the uprising, while activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.