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Mortar shell hits Chinese Embassy in Syria, one Syrian employee injured

A mortar shell fell into the compound of the Chinese Embassy in Damascus on Monday, slightly injuring a Syrian employee, according to an official from the embassy.

It was the first time that the Chinese Embassy was hit since the Syrian conflict broke out two and a half years ago.

The Chinese Embassy confirmed that the mortar shell which was allegedly launched from a southern suburb of Damascus fell into its compound on Monday morning, damaging part of the office building's base walls and shattering some windows.

A Syrian worker, who was cleaning an office, was injured in the attack. He was being treated at a nearby hospital.

A Xinhua reporter who rushed to the scene shortly after the attack saw some embassy staff members cleaning shrapnel and debris. The embassy has maintained good order.

Syria's state news agency SANA reported that the capital city was hit by three mortar shells in the day.

The Chinese Embassy is located within the highly secured Mezze neighborhood which also houses embassies and consulates of other countries in Syria. The presidential complex also sits at the top of the Mezze Hill.

After the attack, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement that China was shocked by the incident and strongly condemns it.

China strongly urges relevant parties of Syria to strictly abide by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and guarantee the safety of the diplomatic institutions and personnel of China as well as other countries, Hong said.

He appealed to the relevant parties to cease fire immediately and open dialogue, put an end to the crisis and restore the country's peace and stability.

On Sept. 22, a shell struck the Russian Embassy in Damascus, wounding three people. On Thursday, the Iraqi consulate in the same neighborhood was hit by a mortar shell, killing an Iraqi woman and injuring three other people.

Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, told Xinhua that these attacks might be accidents but he did not rule out the possibility that they were fired by the opposition forces.

After the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Syria last Friday, the Syrian opposition which pinned hopes on the West to use force against the Syrian government was disappointed and might vent their anger on other countries, Hua said.

The opposition wanted to create an atmosphere that Damascus was not safe any longer, he said, adding that they might have planned the attacks long ago.

Syria's state TV reported Monday that President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday inspected the Damascus suburb of Daraya which used to be a stronghold of the opposition but is now controlled by government troops.

Assad's visit was one of the few that he paid outside the capital since the conflict erupted in March 2011.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 30Sep13]

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