World Bulletin / News Desk
Syrian forces bombarded a crowded Palestinian refugee district in Damascus on Friday, killing at least 10 people according to residents, while other parts of the city were rocked by apparent rebel bomb attacks.
The main focus of the fighting is now in the economic centre, Aleppo, but rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad continue to attack government forces and buildings in the capital.
Five security personnel were killed and several others were wounded in a "terrorist" blast caused by explosives attached to a motorcycle in the Rukn al-Din district of Damascus, state television said.
A car bomb also exploded between the Information Ministry and the main Damascus courthouse, it said, giving no details of any casualties.
In the south of the capital, rockets rained down on Yarmouk, a densely populated Palestinian refugee camp. A woman living nearby counted at least 11 strikes. Video uploaded by activists showed clouds of grey smoke curling into the air.
"At least 10 people have been killed and 15 wounded since they resumed shelling," the woman said by telephone, asking not to be named for her own safety. "There are several burned corpses and limbs, so no one is sure of the total death toll."
Residents across the city said they had been hearing heavy blasts and sporadic gunfire since early on Friday morning.
"I can count at least 10 columns of smoke coming from the southern neighbourhoods around the camp," said activist Samir al-Shami, speaking on Skype. He said tanks and troops had been brought in to conduct raids on some southern neighbourhoods.
"WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS?"
Assad's forces are trying to re-establish full control in Damascus as they battle anti-government forces in Aleppo, Syrias economic hub, and pockets of rebellion across the country.
The army began bombarding Yarmouk on Thursday, possibly targeting rebels who residents say may have entered the camp.
"Why are they doing this? What good is shelling a camp with houses and bakeries? They are making sure that every Syrian and Palestinian turns against them," complained one Palestinian resident near Yarmouk, who also asked to remain anonymous.
The regional news channel Al Arabiya aired live footage of an opposition protest in Yarmouk an hour before shelling there resumed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that more than 23,000 people have died in an uprising that has lasted more than 17 months. Around 200,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said it would give 50 million euros to help Syrian civilians, adding to 69 million already contributed.
Kristalina Georgeva, European commissioner for humanitarian aid, told reporters that talk by Western nations of creating a buffer zone shielded from air strikes was currently impractical.
"We do not have a (U.N.) Security Council resolution that authorises any intervention that could secure space of that nature," she said.
Georgeva said aid workers saw the buffer zones as a last resort because the humanitarian aims of such projects were difficult to secure, as fighters often infiltrated the areas.
"They sometimes may end up prolonging or deepening a conflict rather than resolving it. But if the international community was to come up with a united position in the Security Council to authorise buffer zones, at that moment of time, with the number of victims growing every day ... yes, that could help but, again, at this moment of time I don't see it."
Moscow, which denies its troops have a role in the takeover of Crimea, says people there - a small majority of whom are ethnic Russians - should have the right to secede
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to London to meet with his Russian, as Putin and French President Francois Hollande discussed "possibilities for stepping up international support" for a solution
"Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels," Ban's press office said
In an interview with the France 24 news channel, Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki accused Saudi and Qatar of sponsoring terrorism in his country.
The building is reported to have had gas smells emanating from it for weeks.
His address to the Knesset was staunchly pro-Israeli, and he delighted his hosts by claiming Jewish ancestral roots and talking tough on Iran
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has said Russia is to build two new nuclear power plants in the country.
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels have been involved in nearly two decades of conflict that spilled into eastern Congo
Egyptian authorities have tightened their control over the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip since last July's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian army.
Edward Dolinsky, head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, made a lobbying trip to Jerusalem but not received by officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
"Jordan did not bow to these demands because the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) itself has not adopted a unified position on the need to isolate Qatar over its foreign policies," the lawmaker said on condition of anonymity.
Mustafa Jemilev became the first Crimean Tatar leader to meet with a Russian leader in 200 years. The meeting lasted half an hour, after which Jemilev revealed that the two sides had agreed to continue talks.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said "With Chancellor Merkel we both believe that signing of the association agreement with Ukraine as soon as possible would be beneficial"
Belarus would ask Russia to send "no more than 12 to 15 planes", indicating that the request had been made under a clause of a "union treaty"
Police stopped protesters from the RCD and MSP who were showing red signs with the word 'Boycott', saying their demonstration was illegal
The one-day meeting appeared to mirror a series of "Friends of Syria" conferences in which Western and Arab nations pledged political and financial support for the rebels