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129 Killed in Syrian Bombings — as Kerry Announces 'Provisional' Truce

by Abigail Williams and Alex Johnson /  / Updated 

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A bloody spasm of violence was reported to have killed almost 130 people Sunday in Syria as the United States announced that it and Russia had reached a "provisional agreement" on a cease-fire in the civil war-torn country.

The official Syrian news agency SANA said 83 people were killed and 178 others were wounded in three bombings near a Shiite shrine in Damascus.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 46 people were killed by two suicide bombers in the al-Zahraa neighborhood of Homs. At least 28 of the victims in Homs were civilians, said the observatory, a British-based human rights watchdog that is widely considered to be authoritative.

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SANA said ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings near Damascus, which it described as a car bomb explosion followed by two suicide bombs in the area of the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab. It said most of the injured were women and children.

The violence came on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington and Moscow had negotiated a "provisional" deal on a truce in Syria's civil war.

World powers, which have been pushing for a halt in Syria's nearly five-year civil war, had hoped to see a truce take effect on Friday but have struggled to agree on the terms.

Kerry said in remarks in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh that he had spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov three times to secure a "cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days."

 Multiple explosions killed more than 80 people Sunday in the Sayyida Zeinab area near Damascus, Syria. Natalia Sancha / AP

The Russian Foreign Ministry said later that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had spoken to Kerry and that the two powers had agreed on the parameters of the cease-fire.

Neither Kerry nor the Russian Foreign Ministry provided further details, and Kerry acknowledged that a way to enforce the agreement still hadn't been determined.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Putin also have yet to sign off on the terms, but Kerry said he expects the two leaders to "speak somewhere in the next days or so in order to try to complete this task."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Saturday that he was "definitely" ready to accept a "cessation of hostility" — but only if "terrorists" weren't allowed to use it to their advantage.

"We announced that we're ready," Assad told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

"If you want to say 'cease-fire,' it’s not the correct word, because a cease-fire is between two armies or two countries," Assad said. "It's better to say 'cessation of hostility,' or let's say, 'stopping the operations'. ...

"It's also about other complimentary and more important factors — preventing the terrorists from using the cease-fire or the cessation of hostility to improve their position," he said. "It's about preventing other countries, especially Turkey, from sending more recruits, more terrorists, more armaments or any kind of logistical support to those terrorists."

Turkey has been among the most active of the Western countries supporting insurgents fighting Assad's regime.

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