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Russia says Damascus embassy shelled by rebel groups

Moscow has alleged that rebel groups, including those backed by al Qaeda, have bombarded its embassy compound in the Syrian capital. It also blamed US policies in the region for stoking further violence.

Russia said that nobody was hurt as one mortar shell landed near the residential and two more near its embassy building in Damascus. In a statement, the foreign ministry alleged that US policy in Syria was partly to blame for the incident. 

"We are considering the shelling of the Russian embassy in Damascus to be a consequence of actions by those such as the United States and some of its allies who are instigating a continuation of the bloody conflict in Syria by catering to militants and extremists of various sorts," the foreign ministry wrote.

A day earlier, the embassy was hit by mortar fire originating from an area controlled by "terrorist groups Fata al-Sham [formerly the al Qaeda-backed Nusra Front] and Faylaq al-Rahman," the statement said. It also said Monday's attack was the result of a US policy which "provokes further bloodshed in Syria."

"Moscow is decisively denouncing this as a crime committed by terrorists," it elaborated, saying that "by sheer luck, none of the embassy's employees were hurt."

Tensions redouble between US, Russia

The situation in the Middle-eastern country has worsened since a ceasefire mediated by US and Russia broke down two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the two countries to restart talks after Washington suspended diplomatic exchanges with Moscow. "I will strongly urge [them] to resume their negotiations so that there will be cessation of hostilities." According to Ban, a truce is essential so that aid can be delivered to the besieged city of Aleppo, where nearly 250,000 civilians are stuck and basic rations are running out.

Meanwhile, Syrian regime forces were making substantial gains in Aleppo's east on Tuesday, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "They are focusing on tall buildings, which were once government administration buildings, because they can monitor entire streets and neighborhoods from there," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP news agency.

According to Syria's official SANA news agency, at least six people died when rebels shelled the Aleppo University campus in the city's government-controlled western area,

mg/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)

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