It was the first time that the Chinese Embassy was hit since the Syrian conflict broke out two-and-a-half years ago, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday. The Chinese Embassy confirmed that the mortar shell which was allegedly launched from a Southern suburb of Damascus fell into its compound on Monday, damaging part of the office building's base walls and shattering some windows.

A Syrian worker, who was cleaning an office, was injured in the attack. He was being treated at a nearby hospital. Syria's state news agency SANA reported that the capital city was hit by three mortar shells in the day. The Chinese Embassy is located within the highly secured Mezze neighborhood which also houses embassies and consulates of other countries in Syria. The presidential complex also sits at the top of the Mezze Hill.

The Iraqi Consulate in the same area was hit by a mortar shell last week, killing an Iraqi woman and injuring three people, and a shell struck the Russian embassy a few days earlier, wounding three people. After the attack, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement that China was shocked by the incident and strongly condemns it.

China strongly urges relevant parties of Syria to strictly abide by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and guarantee the safety of the diplomatic institutions and personnel of China as well as other countries, Hong said. He appealed to the relevant parties to ceasefire immediately and open dialogue, put an end to the crisis and restore the country's peace and stability.

Hong said China will send its experts to join in the inspections and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. "China will provide financial aid in this regard," he said. China has been actively engaged in consultations with UN Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council to facilitate the adoption of decisions and resolutions relating to Syria,” Hong said.

Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, told Xinhua that these attacks might be accidents but he did not rule out the possibility that they were fired by the rebels. The Syrian opposition which pinned hopes on the West to use force against the Syrian government was disappointed and might vent their anger on other countries, Hua said.

The opposition wanted to create an atmosphere that Damascus was not safe any longer, he said, adding that they might have planned the attacks long ago.

(Agencies)

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