The head of the Arab League said on Friday he had asked the Damascus-based leader of the Palestinian movement Hamas to ask the Syrian government to work to halt violence in the country.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby was speaking alongside Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal after a meeting in Cairo.

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"I gave him a message today to the Syrian authorities that it is necessary to work with integrity, transparency and credibility to halt the violence that is happening in Syria," he said.

Earlier Friday, a suicide bomber in Syria's capital Damascus killed 25 people and wounded 46 others, local news station Addounia said.

The bomber blew himself up at a traffic light, according to state television. Footage broadcast by Syria Television also showed the shattered blood splattered windows of what appeared to be a police bus.

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Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad injured at least three protesters on Friday when they fired at hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators who had gathered at mosque in a Damascus district where a major security headquarters is located, a witness said.

The witness, who lives in the area, told Reuters by phone that Pro-Assad militiamen, known as shabbiha, and secret police agents hit the protesters with automatic rifle fire after they defied the heavy security presence and refused to leave the Abdel Karim al-Rifai mosque in Kfar Souseh neighborhood.

Syria bars most independent journalists from the country, making first-hand reporting impossible. There was no immediate comment from the authorities.


At least 44 people were killed last month by what the Syrian authorities said were two suicide bombings against security buildings in the Syrian capital.

Syria has been racked for 10 months by an uprising against President Bashar Assad in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed. The government says armed "terrorists" have killed 2,000 members of the security forces.


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