Growing role of armed Islamist groups in Syria revolt
The suicide bombings that took place on Monday along with a series of other bombings across Syria in recent days have raised fears that the current unrest in the country is allowing the rise of radical Islamic groups. This scenario concerns Western officials, and would likely make the chances of resolving the crisis more difficult.
This development is also complicating efforts that are being made in order to force President Bashar al-Assad's regime to comply with the cease-fire brokered by the United Nations. This rise of Islamists groups was reflected by two suicide bombings in crowded areas in the northern province of Idleb early yesterday morning, killing at least 9 people and wounding at least 100. Earlier, rocket-propelled grenades hit the building of the Central Bank in the capital Damascus.
These recent blasts brought the number of attacks in Syria since the December 2011 to eight. This includes also the explosion, which occurred last Friday, killing at least 10 people. The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. and Arab officials, as well as some members of the Syrian opposition, said that the attacks indicate the growing activities of al Qaeda and Sunni extremists in operations against the Syrian regime, at a time of a popular uprising against the al-Assad regime.
U.S. officials, including James Kleber, director of national intelligence, conveyed that the attacks which targeted the headquarters of security and intelligence in Damascus and Aleppo over the past four months represent the type of acts by al Qaeda. According to him, extremists, particularly militants of al Qaeda in Iraq, may have penetrated the Syrian opposition groups.
A U.S. official said: "We are increasingly concerned that such attacks are beyond the control of the Syrian opposition...and that other groups are involved."
Groups belonging to the Syrian opposition, including the Free Syrian Army have denied any role in the attacks that took place yesterday, and held the government responsible. Opposition groups have expressed their belief that Damascus is waging the attacks in order to prove that it is fighting terrorists, a term used to refer to government opponents.