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Mortars land near Syrian presidential palace

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 19, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.

— Two mortars exploded near one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s palaces in Damascus on Tuesday but caused only material damage, Syria’s state news service said.

The attack was the first confirmed strike close to a presidential palace and another sign that the civil war is seeping into areas once considered safe and reaching closer to the heart of Assad’s seat of power in the capital.

The state news service, SANA, said “terrorists” fired the rounds that struck near the southern wall of the Tishreen palace in the capital’s northwestern Muhajireen district. The government rebels to anti-government fighters as “terrorists.”

No casualties were reported, and it was unclear whether Assad was in the palace. He has two others in the city.

Assad often uses the Tishrin palace to receive dignitaries and as a guest house for foreign officials during their visits to Syria.

His two other palaces are the People’s Palace on Qasioun mountain overlooking the capital and Rawda palace in the central neighborhood of Abu Rummaneh.

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