Three Dozen Killed in Iraq, Syria

BAGHDAD (AP) — Officials say morning commuters in Baghdad have been rocked by a pair of car bomb explosions that killed at least 13 civilians.


The escalating violence is part of an ongoing standoff between Iraqi forces and al-Qaida-linked militants west of the Iraqi capital.

Iraqi officials say the worst blast was a car bomb at a bustling bus station in central Baghdad that killed at least nine civilians and wounded 16.

Political tensions and violence has escalated in Iraq over the past year. Last year, the country saw the highest death told since the worst of the country’s sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year.

Meanwhile, Syrian activists say government shelling has killed more than 20 people in the central city of Homs.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday that the number is expected rise because dozens of people were critically wounded in the shelling of the rebel-held Waer area of Homs.

The Observatory said the shelling occurred Saturday. The activist collective, the Local Coordination Committees, also published similar information.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have been widening an air assault on rebel-held areas in recent weeks, targeting opposition-held residential areas and killing civilians.

Syrian rebels have also targeted Assad-loyal areas with indiscriminate mortar fire.

On Sunday, Syria’s state media said rebel-fired mortar shells killed two people in the Assad-loyal Zahra area of the city.