1. SYRIA REELING

    Deadly Car Bomb Shakes Damascus

    This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian security agents carrying a body following a huge explosion that shook central Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. A car bomb shook central Damascus on Thursday, exploding near the headquarters of the ruling Baath party and the Russian Embassy, eyewitnesses and opposition activists said. (AP Photo/SANA)

    Scene of explosion in Damascus on Thursday. (SANA, via AP)

    According to a Syrian news agency, at least 53 people were killed and more than 200 wounded Thursday when a car bomb exploded near the headquarters of President Bashar al-Assad’s party in Damascus. Syrian state media have deemed the incident a “terrorist” attack. At least four of the injured were children, Syrian state media reported. Eyewitnesses said a car exploded at a checkpoint between the Baath Party headquarters and the Russian Embassy, and the blast caused an immense cloud of smoke to rise over much of the city. “It was huge. Everything in the shop turned upside down,” said one local resident. The violence comes as the Arab League and Russia have offered to broker talks between the rebels and the government.

    Read it at The New York Times