Bombings in Aleppo and Damascus, government blames terrorists 0 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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29th January 2005

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#1 6 years ago

The first took place in Damascus which consisted of twin car bombs targeting state buildings in the capital. This is similar to previous attacks against government buildings in Damascus, which often took the form of car bombings as these were. The government says the buildings belonged to the customs office and air force intelligence. Government reports at least 24 dead and scores more injured.

Twin car bombs kill dozens in Damascus - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

At least 27 people have been killed and 97 others wounded in a pair of explosions in Damascus, the Syrian health minister has said.

State television blamed "terrorists" for the Saturday morning explosions and reported that vehicles packed with explosives had been used. The blasts targeted buildings belonging to a customs office and air force intelligence.

Most of the casualties were civilians, state television said. The channel broadcast interviews with Syrians who blamed the attack on the United States and Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who they said had sent terrorists.

The attacks come two days after the one-year anniversary of the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"I woke up to two massive explosions around 7:30 this morning - one was on Baghdad street less than a mile away from my home," a witness in Damascus told Al Jazeera. "Relatives closer to the explosion told me their windows were blown out and doors destroyed from the blast."

Bassma Kodmani, a Paris-based member of the opposition Syrian National Council, said she doubted the armed groups trying to bring Assad down by force have the capacity to carry out such attacks on security institutions in the capital.

"I don't think any of the opposition forces or the Free Syrian Army has the capacity to do such an operation to target these buildings because they are fortresses,'' she said. "They are very well guarded. There is no way anyone can penetrate them without having strong support and complicity from inside the security apparatus."

State-run news agency SANA said a third blast went off near a military bus at the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Damascus later in the day, killing the two suicide bombers.

No claim of responsibility

It was not the first time bombers have struck in Damascus, the heart of Assad's power base. There were three alleged suicide bombings in the capital between December and January, which the government blamed on al-Qaeda.

"A few weeks ago, we saw security buildings also come under attack [in Aleppo] and the government has been blaming what they are calling 'terrorist groups'," said Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut.

She said no one had claimed responsibility for Saturday's attacks but that the opposition has in the past blamed the government for "orchestrating" them to bolster its case against alleged terrorists.

"But we also have to remember that US officials have hinted in the past that they believe that al-Qaeda could be involved, could be taking advantage of the security vacuum in that country," Khodr said.

The spectre of al-Qaeda could make Syria's minority populations more nervous about the Sunni-led uprising against Assad, whose government has sought to rally Alawite, Christian and Shia communities to its side.

One of Saturday's blasts happened in al-Qassaa, a predominantly Christian area.

International condemnation

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the bomb blasts and called for an immediate end to the violence.

"Mr Ban extended his sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and the people of Syria," a statement from the secretary-general's office said.

Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said: "France condemns all acts of terrorism, which cannot be justified under any circumstances."

France has been at the forefront of calls for Assad to quit.

Mohammed Kamel Amr, Egypt's foreign minister, affirmed Cairo's "fixed position against terrorism in any form, regardless of the reasons behind it".

Meanwhile, the Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), an opposition activist network, said 22 people were killed across the country on Saturday, including eight in the northwestern city of al-Raqqa where security forces reportedly opened fire on a funeral march.

Al-Raqqa saw a rare mass rally against Assad on Friday and activists said several people were killed by gunfire.

Clashes between the military and army defectors were also reported in the city on Saturday. The LCC said security forces had besieged the hospital that admitted most of the injured. Source:

Al Jazeera and agencies

A day later, another bombing hit the city of Aleppo, this time hitting a residential complex and killing at least three people and injuring 25. State TV blamed the incident on 'terrorists' as they did with the bombings in Damascus.

Explosion rocks Syrian city of Aleppo - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

At least three people have been killed and 25 wounded by a car bomb in Syria's second biggest city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said, a day after two blasts rocked the capital Damascus.

Residents told the UK-based rights group that they saw bodies in the streets after Sunday’s blast close to a state security office.

State news channel Syria TV said the "terrorist" explosion had been between two residential buildings in the al-Suleimaniya district, behind a post office.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from neighbouring Lebanon, said it is not the first time Aleppo was hit during the now year-long uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. "We have seen an explosion in Aleppo just a few weeks ago. That explosion targeted the security headquarters."

The opposition also reported heavy raids by security forces and fighting with rebels in northern and southern Syrian provinces and suburbs of Damascus.

In the capital, as crowds gathered for memorials to the 27 victims of Saturday's car bombs, security forces broke up an opposition march of more than 200 people when protesters began shouting "the people want to topple the regime".

The phrase has echoed through the wave of Arab uprisings that began last year and has toppled autocratic rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

"They were walking through an area in central Damascus, near SANA (the state news agency),” Rami Abdelrahman from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"At first they shouted slogans against violence and the police didn't do anything, but as soon as they started to call for regime change the police rushed in and started beating people with canes," Abdelrahman said.

The protest, which called for non-violent resistance to the government, had been led by moderate opposition leaders previously tolerated by the government because of their calls for dialogue and rejection of foreign intervention.

Civilian casualties

State television blamed "terrorists" for the Saturday morning explosions and reported that vehicles packed with explosives had been used.

The blasts targeted buildings belonging to a customs office and air force intelligence. Most of the casualties were civilians, state television said. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Lebanon where Islamist groups support the Syrian opposition

The channel broadcast interviews with Syrians who blamed the attack on the United States and Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who they said had sent "terrorists".

Bassma Kodmani, a Paris-based member of the opposition Syrian National Council, said she doubted the armed groups trying to bring Assad down by force have the capacity to carry out such attacks on security institutions in the capital.

"I don't think any of the opposition forces or the Free Syrian Army has the capacity to do such an operation to target these buildings because they are fortresses," she said.

"They are very well guarded. There is no way anyone can penetrate them without having strong support and complicity from inside the security apparatus."

SANA said a third blast went off near a military bus at the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Damascus later in the day, killing the two suicide bombers.

Growing insurgency

Activists said the Sunday march in Damascus aimed to commemorate the peaceful roots of Syria's uprising, which has been overshadowed by the growing armed insurgency against state security forces.

Heavy fighting also raged in the northwestern province of Deir Ezzor and military vehicles were torched, activists said.

Rebels also blew up a bridge in southern Deraa, birthplace of the uprising, the UK-based rights group said. The bridge had been used to transport supplies to security forces besieging the city.

The rights group said security forces raided the town of Artouz, a Damascus suburb, looking for wanted men. The Local Co-ordination Committee, another opposition group, said residents they could hear heavy gunfire.

The United Nations estimates that more than 8,000 people have died so far in the violence following the revolt against four decades of rule by the Assad family.

Authorities say they are fighting insurgents who have so far killed more than 2,000 members of the security forces.

Of note in both articles is the state singling out Saudi Arabia and other gulf states for enabling the terrorists. It may be recalled that Saudi Arabia was among the loudest in pushing for foreign countries to arm the FSA, which other countries were lukewarm too out of fear it may exacerbate things in the country.

The opposition groups have been scrambling to once again deny that they had anything to do with it, pointing out that they could not have the resources to attack government buildings in Damascus, and again subtly implying it was an inside job. I haven't seen much comment from them on the Aleppo bombings though.

Reading through a NYtimes piece, it says that 'western intelligence' sources also believe that "a militant group" allied with al-Qaeda in Iraq may have had some role in recent bombings. As far as the government is concerned though, the protestors and terrorists are the same threat that have been destabilizing and destroying the country.