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Kerry urges UN to act on Syria chemical arms

US secretary of state says "it is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out" over August attack.

Last Modified: 20 Sep 2013 00:16
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The US has called for a binding UN resolution on Syria's chemical weapons next week, as a senior Syrian official said the country's conflict has reached a stalemate.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said the "definitive" UN report had proved that the Syrian regime was behind an August chemical weapons attack.

"Now the test comes. The Security Council must be prepared to act next week," Kerry said. "It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out." 

Syria's deputy premier, meanwhile, said Damascus believed the conflict had reached a stalemate and would call for a ceasefire if long-delayed peace talks in Geneva were to take place.

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Qadri Jamil told the British newspaper The Guardian .

When asked what his government would propose at the stalled Geneva-2 summit, he replied: "An end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process."

Bombings kill dozens

Earlier on Thursday, two bombings in Syria killed at least 39 people in the latest surge in violence, while al-Qaeda-linked fighters tighten their grip on a border town near Turkey after killing and expelling fighters from the main opposition armed group.

Activists said 20 people were killed in a car bombing of a government building in the town of Zamalka, near the capital Damascus. 

Elsewhere in Syria, a roadside bomb struck a bus in a village in the central Homs province, killing 19 people, according to a local government official.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) put the death toll in the blast at 14.

"Several explosive devices detonated as a convoy of minibuses drove past," Rami Abdel Rahman, the network's director, said

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

The village is predominantly Alawite, an offshoot of Shia Islam and a minority sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs, but it also has Christians and Sunni Muslims.

The bombings came a day after al-Qaeda-linked fighters captured a town near the Turkish border in the north of Syria.

An activist group said on Thursday that the town changed hands after heavy clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters who controlled the area.

It was the latest development in what has been a relatively new component in the conflict: growing infighting between fighters with ties to al-Qaeda and Western-backed opposition groups.

Turkey has temporarily shut its border post after the gun battles.

"The Oncupinar border gate has been closed due to activity and uncertainty on the Syrian side of the border," a government official told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, adding that it was a temporary measure.

The US and its European and Gulf Arab allies are increasingly concerned about the rising prominence of al-Qaeda-linked groups among the fighters, who have been playing a major role in the battles against Assad's forces.

Heavy fighting between rebels and government forces has reportedly been taking place in the area in eastern Damascus on Thursday morning.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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