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Mortar hits Vatican Embassy in Syrian capital Damascus

By Paul Nassar, Charlene Gubash and Henry Austin, NBC News

A mortar round damaged the Vatican Embassy in Damascus early Tuesday, officials said.

Speaking from the Syrian capital, Archbishop Mario Zenari told NBC News that there were no injuries as most of the personnel had not arrived for work when the blast occurred at around 6:30 a.m. local time (11:30 p.m. ET).

"It was very strong and noisy. We stayed inside and we were very afraid," Monsignor Giorgio Chazza told Reuters. 

He added that buildings in the wealthy Maliki area, where there are several embassies as well as the residences of government, had been hit eight to 10 times by mortar bombs since July.

"If the attack had happened later it would have been a lot worse," Father Ciro Benedettini said from the Vatican City. He also said the mortar hit a part of the embassy that was not being used.

An official at the embassy told Reuters that the roof was damaged and there was broken glass inside.

It was not clear if the embassy was deliberately targeted.   

Reuters contributed to this report.