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Syria blast hits state media agency

A bomb has gone off at Syria's state TV center in Damascus. The attack coincided with reported fighting in the key city of Aleppo ahead of a much-awaited showdown there.

A bomb ripped through the headquarters of Syria's state television and radio building in Damascus on Monday, Syrian media reported.

"An explosion hit the third floor of the Syrian television headquarters, causing casualties," it said.

The report said that at least three people had been wounded in the bomb attack. Pro-government private Syrian television station Al-Ikhbariya beamed pictures of employees looking at the damaged media building and dealing with a wounded employee.

The state media building that was targeted is situated in downtown Damascus. It continued to stay on air despite the bombing.

The Syrian capital has been shaken by a string of suicide attacks and bombings in recent months as the civil war in Syria has intensified. But government forces claim that they retain control over the capital despite attempts by rebels to take it over.

Eyes firmly on Aleppo

The Damascus attack came as reports of clashes in Aleppo started to filter through on Monday ahead of a threatened ground assault in the country's second city. Fighting took place in the rebel-held quarter of Salaheddin on Monday, which left one rebel commander dead, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Aleppo fighters

The battle for Aleppo could decide the outcome of the Syrian conflict

Overall, the watchdog reported nine fatalities on Monday, eight of them civilians. It said 19 deaths had been recorded across the country in total.

Syrian military claimed on Sunday to have 20,000 troops amassed outside Aleppo in preparation for a decisive showdown with rebel forces there. Although government and rebel forces have been fighting for control of Aleppo for a week, neither side has made significant gains.

The battle for Aleppo could decide the outcome of Syria's 17-month long conflict.

sej/rg (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)