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Taxi bomb hits Syrian capital as UN envoy pushes for cease-fire

The bomb killed at least 13 people in Damascus. In another part of the capital, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met with President Bashar Assad.

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Syrian authorities blame the anti-government uprising that began in March last year on a foreign conspiracy and accuse Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with the US, other Western countries, and Turkey, of funding, training, and arming the rebels, whom they describe as "terrorists."

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Tensions with Turkey

For months, Turkey served as headquarters for the leaders of the ragtag Free Syrian Army before the rebel group shifted its command to Syria. Turkey also hosts many meetings of the Syrian National Council opposition group. Relations between Turkey and Syria, once close, have been deteriorating since the crisis began last year and Ankara became one of President Bashar Assad's harshest critics.

Brahimi said he was "hopeful that the Eid in Syria will be calm if not happy." He said that he will return to Syria after the holiday. "If we find that this calm is actually achieved during the Eid and continued, we will try to build on it," he added.

"The Syrian people expect more than a truce for a few days and it is their right, but all we can promise is that we will work hard to achieve their aspirations," he said.

Brahimi arrived in Damascus Friday after a tour of Middle East capitals to drum up support for the cease-fire. A range of countries including Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Germany have backed the idea.

Syrian government forces and rebels have both agreed in the past to internationally brokered cease-fires only to then promptly violate them, and there is little indication that either is willing to stop fighting now.

Elsewhere, in the northern city of Aleppo, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car in front of the French-Syrian Hospital at al-Zohour Street, causing material damage, but no casualties, SANA said. It said the blast wounded several passers-by, but did not disclose their number.

Anti-regime activists say more than 33,000 people have been killed since the anti-Assad revolt started.

* Associated Press writer Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.

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