Explosion at Damascus gas station kills 10

Jan. 4, 2013 at 9:40 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- At least 10 people were killed Friday in an explosion at a gas station in Damascus, Syria, in the second recent attack on people seeking fuel, witnesses said.

In Turkey, U.S. troops arrived to man Patriot missile batteries deployed to protect Turkey from spillover fighting from the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian government news agency blamed terrorists for the bomb that struck the station in a northeastern Damascus neighborhood, while anti-government activists said a car bomb caused the explosion, The New York Times reported.

One activist in Damascus said he thought the government was behind the bombing in Barzeh as well as an explosion in which at least 30 people were killed Wednesday at a gas station in an eastern suburb. Rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's government been had contested both areas.

"The people are being punished and disciplined because the regime wants them to say again that [Assad] is their master," the activist told the Times.

People are going to gas stations not only to fill up their vehicles but to get containers of fuel for generators and heaters.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights, based in London, said it documented the deaths of 121 people across Syria Friday, including 14 children and four women. Seventy deaths were reported from the Damascus area. The toll was not independently verified.

Fighting was reported across the country, with the government saying it repelled a rebel assault on the key helicopter base Taftanaz in the north, the Times said.

Reports of apparent summary executions by government forces still surface, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group also operating out of London, distributing two videos it said were leaked from security forces.

In one, a man identifying himself as a government soldier said he was going "to shoot a terrorist in case my brother Alaa doesn't come back, mom," then did.

The Times said the videos' authenticity couldn't be verified.

The BBC reported the Aleppo airport was also under fire Thursday and had been closed since Tuesday because of repeated attacks. Fighting also was reported in several Damascus suburbs and in and around the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

The Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported 27 U.S. troops arrived in Gaziantep, Turkey, near the Syrian border to oversee Patriot missile deployment.

Turkey has been hit by Scud missiles fired at cities near the Turkish border and the United States, Germany and Netherlands agreed to oversee the Patriot deployment to intercept any more Syrian rockets.

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