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Excerpt: "Syrian government spokesman says 55 people were killed and 372 wounded in the rush-hour bomb attacks on the capital."

Flames and smoke raise from burning cars after two bombs exploded, at Qazaz neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, 05/10/12. (photo: AP)
Flames and smoke raise from burning cars after two bombs exploded, at Qazaz neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, 05/10/12. (photo: AP)



Damascus Hit by Deadly Explosions

By Haroon Siddique and Matthew Weaver, Guardian UK

10 May 12

 

wo explosions have hit the Syrian capital of Damascus, leaving scores killed and wounded, Syrian TV has reported.

The state-run station blamed terrorists for the blasts, which were in the Qazaz area, where a Syrian intelligence agency has its headquarters. The explosions occurred at about 7.50am local time on Thursday during the rush hour, according to the state news agency Sana.

Fifty-five people were killed and 372 wounded in the attacks, according to the Syrian foreign affairs spokesman Jihad Makdissi, who appealed for people to donate blood. Describing it as possibly the "strongest and bloodiest" attack so far, he said two suicide bombers blew up cars containing more than 1,000kg of explosives. .

Videos posted online showed a plume of thick black smoke rising above Qazaz, in the south-west of the city. Syrian TV showed graphic pictures of burnt corpses and body parts on the ground, as well as gutted vehicles. People worked to free bodies from the wreckage of vehicles and to extinguish blazes.

The UN-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan called for a halt to the violence, and urged compliance from both sides with the 12 April ceasefire that he brokered.

"These abhorrent acts are unacceptable and the violence in Syria must stop," he said.

"Any action that serves to escalate tensions and raise the level of violence can only be counter-productive to the interests of all parties."

A source in Damascus told the Guardian that both of the explosions occurred close to the university's faculty of mechanical engineering where students were arriving for lessons.

"They were very large explosions," he said. "They could be heard from far away. People couldn't believe that this happened ... There are ambulances rushing to the area."

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the target was the intelligence buildings.

The outer wall of the nearby Palestine Branch Military Intelligence complex collapsed, although the structure inside appeared intact.

The Palestine Branch is one of the most feared among the more than 20 secret police organisations in the country.

UN observers, including mission head Major-General Robert Mood, visited the site of the explosions, one of which left a 10m-deep crater in the road.

Mood said: "This is yet another example of the suffering brought upon the people of Syria from acts of violence ... I call on everyone within and outside Syria to help stop this violence." Walls of buildings on either side of the wide avenue had collapsed.

State TV showed a man walking around the wreckage pointing at the charred remains of cars. "Is this freedom?" he said.

"This is the work of the Saudis," he added, referring to the Gulf state that has advocated arming the rebels.

As with previous explosions labelled "terrorist attacks" by state media, many opposition activists blamed Thursday's blast on the government, claiming it was trying to equate the armed opposition with violent extremists.

Lena, a spokeswoman for the Revolution Leadership Council of Damascus, said she had no "conclusive evidence" the government was to blame but claimed that a witness to the attack was shot by a government sniper.

She added: "Some people say the security forces were there in order to stage the whole operation and in order to stop people seeing it and recording whatever might happen ... The regime is trying to pull the area into a pool of violence."

The opposition Syrian National Council also blamed the government, while the renegade Free Syrian Army said it lacked the capability to carry out such an attack.

One resident, who said he got within 100m of one of the blasts before being turned back by security forces, told Reuters he saw broken glass on the street and women crying. Nearby schools sent children home for the day.

Another resident said police had closed off the Kfar Souseh district, which houses a military intelligence complex, and were firing automatic rifles in the air. Residents described a smaller blast followed quickly by a massive explosion.

Central Damascus is under the control of forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad but has been struck by several bomb attacks, often targeting security installations or convoys. The last major explosion in the capital occurred on 27 April when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt near members of the security forces, killing at least nine people and wounding 26 others.

 

The UN said weeks ago that more than 9,000 people had been killed since the uprising began in March 2011. Hundreds more have died since, according to opposition activists. Numerous violations have been reported on both sides since the start of the ceasefire in mid-March. The Local Co-ordination Committees activist group claims more than 1,000 people have been killed by the security forces since the ceasefire was supposed to take effect.

On Wednesday, the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon warned of an "alarming upsurge" in bombings.

 

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+1 # cadan 2012-05-10 22:54
Even though this is from the Guardian, i think there's a definite POV ("point of view") in this article.

It is absolutely inconceivable that if something like this happened in any British or American city there would be equal time for (e.g.) some group wanting the government ousted.
 
 
+3 # RMDC 2012-05-11 04:05
State TV showed a man walking around the wreckage pointing at the charred remains of cars. "Is this freedom?" he said.

"This is the work of the Saudis," he added, referring to the Gulf state that has advocated arming the rebels."

It is not likely that any US media would have published the above lines. Condolezza Rice said after some particularly vicious bombings in Iraq that they were the "birth pains of freedom" or democracy. The Saudis, US, Qutaris are running this terrorist war against Syria, just as they did in the war against Libya. They are acting as Israel's army.

At the conference in Turkey a month or so ago, these nations put up $100 million to pay salaries to the terrorists fighting Syria. I don't see why that does not make them terrorist nations and thus under attack by forces of the GWOT. Can't the NDAA be applied to Hillary Clinton for her support of terrorists.

The stupid UN is trying to play the game of saying that the violence is caused by both sides. That's wrong. The rebels, mercenaries, terrorists supported by the US and its clients are the cause of the violence and death. If the US stopped, the violence would stop.

Maybe someday the US will be subjected to a terrorist campaign like the ones it inflicts on other nations. I wonder how Americans would like it? What goes around comes around.
 
 
+1 # Activista 2012-05-12 10:04
"Maybe someday the US will be subjected .."
USA is bankrupted by militarism and wars - as was Soviet Union in 1989 - what we would export if there is a peace?
It is scary how under 50 generation is brainwashed by corporate war propaganda. We are in the worse situation than Greece - only difference is timing.
 
 
+2 # Activista 2012-05-11 20:13
The one paragraph propaganda that the Syrian government is bombing itself is SICK.
Hillary Clinton is supporting terrorism. Getting money from AIPAC ... how LOW did we fell morally?
 
 
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-13 10:42
'Some people' might say that this is the result of those in the US government who had no qualms about bombing ourselves on 9/11 and so think this is just business as usual ... 'some people' might say, but I won't say that out loud...
 

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