Death toll in Damascus mosque blast rises to 42-Syria government
BEIRUT, March 21 (Reuters) - An explosion at a mosque in the Syrian capital on Thursday killed at least 42 people, including a senior pro-government Muslim cleric, and wounded 84, the Syrian health ministry said.
State television and anti-government activists had earlier reported 15 dead. The television said a "terrorist suicide blast" hit the Iman Mosque in central Damascus, and Mohammed al-Buti, imam of the ancient Ummayyad Mosque, was among the dead.
Buti, a government-appointed cleric reviled by the Syrian opposition movement, delivered the official weekly Friday mosque sermons on state television.
(Reporting by Erika Solomon; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
CARTAGENA, Colombia/BEIRUT U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defended his efforts to negotiate with Moscow over the war in Syria on Monday, despite the collapse of a ceasefire that has led to a massive Russian-backed assault on the besieged rebel-held sector of Aleppo.