3 hurt as Russia's Damascus mission hit by mortar round

3 hurt as Russia's Damascus mission hit by mortar round

DAMASCUS - A mortar round hit the Russian embassy compound in Damascus on Sunday, injuring three, as Moscow accused Washington of blackmailing it to win a tough UN resolution on Syria's chemical weapons.

The United States condemned the shelling, which came as clashes in the northwestern province of Idlib claimed the life of a local leader of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

"On September 22 as a result of shelling by the rebels of the Damascus neighbourhood of Mazzeh, one of the shells exploded on the territory of the Russian Embassy in Syria," the Russian foreign ministry said.

"Three employees received non-life threatening injuries. Right now an investigation of the incident is under way."

The ministry added that the embassy was considering additional security measures after the attack, the first time the compound has been hit.

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington condemned the shelling and "expresses its concern for the welfare of those injured in the incident".

But in Moscow, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed out at the United States, accusing Washington of using "blackmail" to push for a tough UN resolution enshrining the deal under which Syria is turning over its chemical weapons for destruction.

The United States, Britain and France want a severe resolution that could include sanctions or use of force under the UN Charter's Chapter VII if Syria fails to implement the deal.

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