News / Middle East

Suicide Blast Rocks Syrian Capital

Two Syrian security men, left, look to a civil defense worker as he checks a dead body, next to a damaged riot police forces bus at the scene of a suicide bomb attack, at Midan neighborhood, in Damascus, Syria, on Friday Jan. 6, 2012.
Two Syrian security men, left, look to a civil defense worker as he checks a dead body, next to a damaged riot police forces bus at the scene of a suicide bomb attack, at Midan neighborhood, in Damascus, Syria, on Friday Jan. 6, 2012.

Syria says an attacker blew himself at a busy intersection in the capital, Damascus Friday. At least 25 people were killed and 46 others wounded.  It was the second major bombing to rock the capital in two weeks. 

In the Damascus neighborhood of Midan, witnesses say the explosion took place near an intersection, as vehicles waited for a traffic light.  The blast blew out windows of surrounding buildings and hurled shrapnel at motorists and passersby.  State media claimed a suicide-bomber caused the explosion.

It was the second major bombing in the same area in two weeks.  Two bombings took place in the nearby district of Kafr Sousa in late December near government security compounds.

State television broadcast graphic images from the scene and interviewed bystanders who said government opposition groups were behind the blast.  Foreign media, however, report that opposition leaders blame the government for orchestrating the attack.

One man accused a Syrian opposition leader of responsibility for the bombing.  Several others blamed the United States and Israel.

But Riyadh al Asaad, a leader of the opposition Free Syrian Army, told al-Arabiya TV that the Syrian government directed the bombing.  He said the regime has a “long history of manipulating terrorist attacks.”

Asaad questioned “why the bombing took place in a middle-class neighborhood with strong support for the opposition,” rather than a “more well-to-do pro-government neighborhood in the center of Damascus.”  He noted that reporters for state TV arrived at the bomb scene “before rescue crews.”

However, Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, thinks it is more likely that Islamic extremists were behind the bombing.

"I don't think it was the work of the government, because the suicide bomber targeted a police van," Khashan said. "And it wouldn't really make much sense for the government to bring the battle to Damascus, because it is the [nerve center] of the political system.  I'm inclined to assume that it was the work of Salafists in Syria, and I put the blame for their activity on the regime, because it was the regime who used to send them to Iraq.  Now the magic has turned against the magician.”

Middle East analyst Fouad Ajami said before the bombing that the Syrian regime is facing a breakdown of its once-tight grip on society, and is seeing an influx of "troublemakers" from neighboring countries.

"Guns, ideas, jihadists would flow back and forth.  And remember one thing: that's what the Syrian regime itself had wrought by sending thousands of jihadists, both from within Syria and from every Arab country conceivable ... to Iraq in '04, '05, '06, '07 and '08.  Now the chickens have come home to roost,"  Ajami said.

Meanwhile, witnesses reported that government security forces shot at protesters in the northern city of Hama Friday.  Dozens of towns and cities participated in the weekly protest movement.  Internet videos showed thousands of people chanting anti-government slogans on opposition websites.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs