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Car bombs wrack Assad loyalist town in Syria

Car bombs have killed at least 54 people near Damascus in the Syrian town of Jaramana. The bombings occurred as Syria's new opposition holds further talks in Cairo.

Syrian state media broadcast footage of firefighters hosing down the hulks of two vehicles and said two smaller devices had exploded at the same time. The blasts occurred in Jaramana, which is to the east of Damascus and home to Christians and Druze, an offshoot of Islam.

At least 54 people have been killed in the attacks according to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights .

In recent weeks, rebels have stepped up attacks around Damascus.

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Syria car bombs kill dozens

The observatory said Wednesday that government warplanes had raided the restive town of Darya, also on the outskirts of Damascus. Government forces had also shelled the area of Zabadani near Syria's border with Lebanon.

Syrian opposition meeting in Cairo

Sixty members of Syria's new opposition coalition – formed at marathon talks in Qatar earlier this month – were due to meet in Cairo on Wednesday.

Those talks precede consultations in Tokyo scheduled for Friday involving senior representatives of world powers of the grouping called the Friends of Syria.

One of the coalition's two vice-presidents, Suhair al-Atassi, said in Cairo members aimed to "name the prime minister for a transitional government, or at least have a list of candidates ahead of the Friends of Syria meeting."

The two-day Cairo meeting would also select committees to manage aid and communications, she said.

Coalition sources quoted by Reuters said liaison between the coalition and diverse rebel groups within Syria had been assigned to former premier Riad Hijab, who is the highest ranking official to have defected from Assad's regime.

The new coalition, comprising rival Muslim Brotherhood and secular members, is headed by a Damascus Muslim preacher Moaz al-Khatib, who has repeatedly rejected sectarianism.

Al-Khatib was hosted in Paris on Saturday by French President Francois Hollande. France is the only European country to have fully recognized the coalition.

Condemnation from UN committee

In New York, a committee of the UN General Assembly has condemned human rights abuses in Syria as well as Iran and North Korea.

The committee's non-binding resolution slammed "widespread and systematic gross violations" by Assad's government forces and allied militias. It was backed by 132 nations and opposed by 12 others with 35 abstentions.

Syria's ambassador Bashar Jaafari rejected the motion.

The resolution will be forwarded to the UN General Assembly for a vote in December.

ipj/mz (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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