March 18, 2012 in Nation/World

Pair of bombings rattle Syrian capital

Uncertainty growing amid deadly attacks
Patrick J. Mcdonnell Los Angeles Times
 
Associated Press photo

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows cars destroyed in an explosion Saturday in Damascus, Syria.
(Full-size photo)

BEIRUT – Syrians weary of a year of conflict woke Saturday to more bloody news as a pair of bombs stunned the Syrian capital, the latest in a series of such attacks in Damascus and other Syrian cities, state-run media reported.

The government news service said “scores” were killed, while news agencies monitoring Syrian television reported that authorities said at least 27 people had died and about 100 had been injured.

Syrian television broadcast gruesome scenes, including blood-spattered streets, blown-up multistory buildings, scattered body parts and smoldering vehicles.

Distraught residents interviewed amid the rubble by state television expressed outrage and blamed Arab countries, the United States and other nations supporting the uprising against President Bashar Assad. The attacks seem certain to heighten the sense of uncertainty and insecurity in the capital, which largely has been insulated from the violence elsewhere in the country.

The Assad government has blamed insurgent “terrorists” for the series of bombings, which have reminded Syrians of the devastating wave of car bombs that helped destabilize neighboring Iraq after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Opposition forces have denied being behind the bombings and said government operatives trying to smear the uprising as a terrorist movement are behind the strikes.

U.S. intelligence officials have said the bombs may indicate that the al-Qaida movement has joined opposition forces seeking to overthrow Assad’s government. But no specific forensic evidence has emerged linking the bombings to any group or faction.

Starting in late December, a string of what authorities call suicide bombs have killed scores in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s two major cities. Both are considered strongholds of support for the Assad government.

The explosions come as a special peace envoy, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was scheduled to send a team into Damascus in a bid to help craft a cease-fire in the bloody rebellion, which began with street protests a year ago.


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