Twin suicide car bombings ripped through an upscale Damascus district yesterday, targeting heavily-guarded intelligence buildings and killing more than 40 people, Syrian authorities said.
The blasts came a day after an advance team of Arab League observers arrived in the country to monitor the Bashar Al Assad regime’s promise to end its crackdown on protesters. Government officials took the observers to the scene of the explosions and said the attack vindicated their claim that the civil unrest is not a popular uprising, but the work of “terrorists”.
The Syrian opposition, however, said that the blasts were part of a plan hatched three days ago by Al Assad’s regime to coincide with the League mission.
“The message to the mission is clear, even the state security complex is unsafe for inspection,” Bassam Jaara, spokesman for the Syrian revolution in Europe told Gulf News.
Reacting to the attacks, France accused Al Assad’s regime of trying to hide its own brutal tactics from foreign observers.
“We still don’t have any details on the origin of these attacks,” foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said, when asked whether Paris shares suspicions that Al Assad’s regime might have staged the bombings. “Bashar Al Assad is wrong if he thinks he can once again trick the international community by play acting, lies and procrastination,” he said.
The blasts were the first such suicide bombings in Syria since the uprising began in March. The US strongly condemned the blasts, saying they should not be allowed to impede the League plan.
“There is no justification for terrorism of any kind and we condemn these acts wherever they occur,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
The head of the Arab League team Sameer Saif Al Yazal said: “We are here to see the facts on the ground ... What we are seeing today is regretful, the important thing is for things to calm down.”