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Last Updated: Wed, 30.01.13 9:40

Violence engulfs key Syrian cities, activists say 50,000 killed in crisis

Three explosive devices went off Tuesday in Syria's capital of Damascus, leaving injuries and property loss, as a broad-based opposition watchdog placed the overall death toll of Syria's 22-month-old crisis at 50,000.

An explosive device affixed under a car went off Tuesday near Jisr al-Zahira area in Damascus, leaving material damages only, the pro-government Sham FM said, adding that another roadside bomb tore through the car of a Syrian parliamentarian, who was injured in the blast.

The state-run SANA news agency, meanwhile, said a roadside bomb went off in the old quarter of Damascus late on Tuesday, injuring a storekeeper.

Also in the old quarter of Damascus, a fire broke out in the Swaiqa market late Tuesday, setting ablaze a number of shops and killing three people, a local online news website said, adding that the reason behind the fire has been unknown.

Meanwhile, a military source was quoted by local media as confirming that the town of Aqraba, located near the road to the international airport of Damascus, has become under control of the Syrian army after long-standing battles with the rebels.

The state-media also said the army eliminated many gunmen during clashes in hotbeds around Damascus.

The government-run media also rubbished activists' claim that the Syrian troops carried out summary executions in the northern province of Aleppo, saying that the "armed terrorist groups" from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front had executed scores of kidnapped people and tossed their bodies at al-Quaiq river in Bustan al- Qaser area.

Quoting sources, the state media claimed that many of the families of those killed have come forward and identified the killed as their sons, who had refused to succumb to the demands of the gunmen and asked them instead to leave their neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the state media said the competent authorities are following up with the families to expose the details about the massacre, accusing the Nusra Front of being behind it.

The report said that the army hasn't entered the area in which the carnage took place and that it was still controlled by the rebels.

Amid the incessant violence, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based activists' network, said Tuesday that more than 50,000 Syrians have been killed since the start of the unrest in March 2011.

It said the death toll includes defectors, rebels, women and children in addition to 12,350 soldiers and 1,189 unidentified people.

The United Nations, however, has recently placed the overall death toll in Syria at more than 60,000.

Damascus (Xinhua)