Excavator at site of Aleppo blasts 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer)
Al Qaida's Iraqi branch was behind a number of deadly attacks in Syria, according to a Friday McClatchy report.
US officials reportedly told the newspaper that American intelligence information has revealed the radical Sunni group is using the 11-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad and his resulting bloody crackdown as an opportunity to expand its activities and influence abroad.
They confided that it was Osama bin Laden's successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, who gave the orders for two bombings in Damascus outside intelligence agency compounds on December 23
and January 6, and for a suicide attack in Aleppo
on Friday that killed at least 28 people.
After the assassinations of bin Laden in May and other key al Qaida operatives in Pakistan, the branch members are "seeing space [in Syria], seeing a vacuum, and opportunity to bounce back and they are taking advantage of it," the officials alleged.
The report seemed to verify Assad's assertion
that Sunni terrorists are behind the fatal attacks against Syrian civilians.
Assad's Alawite Shiite regime has ruled over the country's Sunni majority since his father seized power in 1963.