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Feb 9, 2:31 PM EST

IS car bomb in Syrian capital kills 10



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BEIRUT (AP) -- A suicide car bomber dispatched by the Islamic State group struck near a police officers' club in the Syrian capital on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people and destroying a number of cars.

Syrian state TV reported the toll and showed footage of the aftermath in Damascus, including several damaged vehicles and a burnt-out car. The police officers' club was next to a vegetable market.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group that tracks the civil war, said the blast killed eight policemen and wounded 20.

The IS group claimed the bombing in a statement circulated by its followers on Twitter, saying it was carried out by a fighter known as Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Shami. It vowed more attacks.

The blast came a day after an international rights group said Syrian government forces and the Russian military have been carrying out daily cluster bomb attacks over the past two weeks in Syria, killing 37 people.

The Human Rights Watch report, released Monday, said that cluster munitions, which are widely banned, have been used in at least 14 attacks across five provinces since Jan. 26.

The attacks killed at least 37 civilians, including six women and nine children, and wounded dozens, HRW said.

Cluster bombs open in flight and scatter dozens of explosive munitions over wide areas. Some 98 States are party to a convention banning their use but several countries - including Syria and Russia, as well as the U.S., China and Israel - have not signed onto the ban.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive in the northern province of Aleppo under the cover of Russian airstrikes in recent weeks in an attempt to besiege rebel-held parts of Aleppo city, the country's former commercial center.

Last week, Syrian troops and their allies were able to lift a three-year siege imposed on the Shiite villages of Nubul and Zahra in Aleppo province.

HRW said some of the recent attacks using cluster munitions occurred near the two villages.

Opposition activists have said that Russia has been using cluster bombs since the start of its aerial campaign in Syria on Sept. 30.

HRW previously documented at least 20 cluster munition attacks by the Russian-Syrian joint operation between Sept. 30 and Dec. 14. It called on Syria and Russia to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders said airstrikes hit a hospital run by the international charity in southern Syria's Daraa province, killing three people and wounding at least six, including a nurse.

The group, also known as MSF, said the strike on Tafas field hospital, some 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the Jordanian border, took place on Feb. 5. It said more than 20,000 people from Tafas town have fled to the surrounding countryside.

MSF did not say who was behind the airstrike. Syrian troops and their allies, backed by Russian airstrikes, have also been on the offensive in the area.

In an interview published in a Russian daily on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow had presented Washington with new proposals for ending Syria's civil war.

He told Moskovsky Komsomolets that the plan is specific and simple, but did not provide details. Lavrov is set to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday in Munich.

Lavrov shrugged off criticism that Russia had contributed to the collapse of peace talks in Geneva last week by providing air cover for the Syrian government advance north of Aleppo. Instead, he blamed Turkey, saying it had fueled the conflict by providing militants with weapons and supplies, and buying oil from them.

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Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

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