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   BEIRUT (AP) - Two Syrian pro-opposition groups are claiming that government forces carried out a "poisonous gas" attack near the capital Damascus, leaving dozens of people dead.

   The two groups quote activists as saying that regime forces fired "rockets with poisonous gas heads" in the attack on Wednesday.

   The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the shelling was intense and hit the eastern suburbs of Zamalka, Arbeen and Ein Tarma.

   It says "tens of people" were killed. The Local Coordination Committees said hundreds of people were killed or injured in the shelling. Such different figures are common in the immediate aftermaths of attacks in Syria.

   There was no government comment on the claims and the reports could not be independently confirmed.

Published in National News

   DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian state TV and residents of Damascus say a powerful explosion has hit the country's capital.

   The nature of Tuesday's explosion in the heart of Damascus was not immediately clear. Resident say they heard a powerful blast and saw thick, black smoke billowing from behind a group of buildings.

   Gunfire was heard in the area immediately after the Tuesday morning blast.

   Syrian TV says the explosion occurred in the central district of Marjeh, although the target was not immediately clear.

   The blast comes a day after Syria's prime minister narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the heavily protected area of Damascus.

Published in National News

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