BEIRUT - A bomb exploded in Damascus on Wednesday near a hotel used by United Nations monitors and wounded three people, Syrian state television said on Wednesday.
The bomb, which was placed in a car park behind the hotel, blew up a fuel truck which sent clouds of black smoke into the sky above the capital.
Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, said none of the observers had been wounded in the blast, state television said. "This was a criminal act aimed at distorting Syria's image," it quoted him as saying.
The Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, Al-Arabiya English reported.
The target was not immediately clear. The area is home to the Syrian army officers club and a building belonging to the ruling Baath Party and is also not far from the army command.
Video from the site of the explosion broadcast by El-Ikhbariya, a pro-government channel, showed firemen hosing down a steaming fuel truck whose tank was blasted open near the hotel. A row of white UN vehicles parked nearby was covered in ash and dust.
A witness said the explosion had gone off at around 8.30 a.m. (0530 GMT) and damaged a building opposite the Dama Rose Hotel, where the monitors were staying, but appeared not to have damaged the hotel itself.
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders