08/21/2017, 10.23
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Missile on Damascus trade fair kills six people, 12 injured

The rocket exploded near the main entrance. The trade fair stands near the rebellious stronghold of Goutha, on the eastern outskirts of the capital. The event is being held for the first time in six years. According to the director general, it is a confirmation of "stability" and a sign of the "beginning of reconstruction".

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The latest death toll from a missile attack yesterday near the main entrance of the International Trade Fair in Damascus is six people. The fair was inaugurated last week, for the first time since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011, confirming a general improvement in the level of security in the capital area.

Syrian TV sources confirm that the rocket has also injured several people, a dozen according to the latest figures.

The fair, re-launched by the Syrian government after years of war to foster investment, especially foreign, is not far from the rebellious stronghold of Ghouta, in the eastern outskirts of the capital. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (Osdu), two women hit by shrapnel invested were among the victims.

The international trade show will last a dozen days.  In spite of yesterday's attack, the calendar of events should continue according to the program, without any changes. Prior to the war, it was the most commercially important event for the Arab country and one of the oldest in the entire Middle Eastern region.

Last week, Fap al-Kartally, Director-General of the International Trade Fair in Damascus, commented that the fair - the event opened on August 17th - reflected "the return of calm and stability in most of the territories ". It is also "the signal of the beginning of [the nation's] reconstruction".

He also commented on yesterday’s attack in a brief statement to the Syrian state TV without providing details. In the service there was a generic talk of "wounded citizens", without specifying the number or mentioning the presence of victims.

Iyad al-Jabiri, a 39-year-old Syrian who was working in a textile booth at the time of the explosion, says: "We were preparing to receive visitors when I heard an explosion [...] then I saw the smoke next to 'Entrance to the fair’.

The United States and the European nations are not officially taking part in the event because of the sanctions imposed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government. However, there are some western companies that have been involved on an individual basis.

The conflict in Syria, which first broke out in March  2011 as a protest movement against the country's leadership, has caused at least 330,000 casualties and generated millions of displaced persons. The capital, Damascus, has long been spared from the atrocities of the conflict and has not suffered the devastation of other cities such as Aleppo or Homs. However, over the years there have been missile attacks and rocket launches from rebel-controlled areas that have caused casualties and material damage. (DS)

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