Two explosions struck central Damascus on Saturday, killing at least 27 people
in an attack on security installations that state television blamed on
“terrorists” seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.
with explosives targeted the criminal police headquarters and an air security
intelligence center at 7:30 a.m., television said, shredding the facade of one
building and sending debris flying through the streets. At least 27 people were
killed and 140 were wounded, the Interior Ministry said.
broadcast on state media showed what appeared to be smoldering bodies in two
vehicles, a wrecked minivan smeared with blood and severed limbs collected in
The state-run SANA news agency quoted a group calling itself the
“Syrian Human Rights Network” as denouncing the bombings as “a form of the
foreign-backed opposition’s failure and international conspiracy which
ultimately supports terrorism and violates all human rights principles, the
international law and relevant international pacts.”
The article quoted
the Damascus Chamber of Commerce and the Arab Writers Union as saying the blasts
“highlighted the continued war against Syria and its national and pan- Arab
stances waged by the US, Zionism and the Arab reactionary forces.”
claimed responsibility for the detonations, which followed a series of suicide
attacks that have struck Damascus and Syria’s second city Aleppo over the past
“We heard a huge explosion. At that moment the doors in our
house were blown out... even though we were some distance from the blast,” said
one elderly man, his head wrapped in a bandage.
The explosions came two
days after the first anniversary of the uprising, in which more than 8,000
people have been killed and about 230,000 have been forced to flee their homes,
according to UN figures.
They also coincided with a joint mission by the
Syrian government, the UN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that was
due to start assessing humanitarian needs in towns across Syria that have
suffered from months of unrest.
One source involved in the mission said
team members were still gathering in Syria and it was not immediately clear if
they would begin their work this weekend as previously planned.
Violence was reported elsewhere in Syria on Saturday.
British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of
contacts within Syria, said the body of an old man was found on Saturday, a day
after he was arrested during raids in the northern region of Jabal al-
It added that five people died in the eastern town of Raqqa,
including three who were wounded a day earlier. One person was shot dead by
security forces during the funeral of two people killed on Friday.
advocacy group Avaaz said it had evidence of 32 children being tortured last
week in the central city of Homs, posting footage on the Internet of the infants
in the hospital. It said some had broken bones, badly cut fingers and
Syria denies accusations of brutality and says it is
grappling with a foreign-backed insurgency. Reports from the country cannot be
independently verified as authorities have barred outside rights groups and
The UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, warned on
Friday that the crisis could spill over into neighboring countries and urged
international powers to lay aside their differences and back his peace
While the West and much of the Arab world have lined up to
demand that Assad steps down, his allies Russia, China and Iran have defended
him and cautioned against outside interference.
“The stronger and more
unified your message, the better chance we have of shifting the dynamics of the
conflict,” an envoy said, summarizing Annan’s remarks to a closed-door meeting
of the 15-nation Security Council.
Turkey said on Friday it might set up
a “buffer zone” inside Syria to protect refugees fleeing Assad’s forces, raising
the prospect of foreign intervention in the revolt, although Ankara made clear
it would not move without international backing.
Diplomats have said that
without a swift resolution, Syria will descend into a full-blown civil
“I think that we need to handle the situation in Syria very, very
carefully,” Annan told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
“Yes, we tend to
focus on Syria, but any miscalculation that leads to major escalation will have
impact in the region which would be extremely difficult to manage,” he
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in a video recording posted on
the Internet last month, urged Muslims around the region to help Syrian rebels.
Syria has previously blamed al- Qaida for at least some attacks on its territory
and has vowed to respond with an iron fist.
Annan presented Assad with a
six-point peace proposal at talks in Damascus last weekend. Envoys said he told
the Security Council on Friday that the response to date was
Assad insists the Syrian opposition stop fighting first,
while the US, Gulf Arabs and Europeans have demanded that Assad and his much
stronger forces make the first move. Russia wants both sides to stop shooting
Annan will send a team to Damascus early next week to
discuss a proposal to deploy international monitors in the country, his
spokesman Ahmad Fawzi has said.