The Latest: Reports say shell hits Syrian fair

The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

Social media activists and a local journalist say a shell has hit Syria's first international trade fair since the war broke out six years ago, killing and wounding several people.

Sunday's shelling comes three days after the Syrian government opened the international trade fair, an event hailed by officials as a "victory" and a sign of renewed confidence in the war-torn nation.

The Mortar News in Damascus Facebook page that tracks violence in the capital reports that the shell hit the entrance of the Damascus International Fair killing four and wounding four others.

A journalist working for state media confirmed the shelling saying it left "several people martyred or wounded."

The journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is now allowed to speak to other media organizations did not elaborate.

By Bassem Mroue

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2:10 p.m.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has blasted the West, rejecting any security cooperation or reopening of embassies in Damascus before those countries cut relations with opposition groups.

Assad's defiant comments on Sunday come at a time when his troops are gaining ground around the country and many countries have ceased calling for him to step down.

In a speech before dozens of Syrian diplomats in Damascus, Assad praised Russia, Iran, China and Lebanon's Hezbollah for supporting his government during his country's six-year civil war.

He said Syria will look east when it comes to political, economic and cultural relations.

Assad said recent deals to de-escalate violence in Syria are good to reduce the bloodletting but vowed not to give the opposition in politics what it failed to gain through arms.