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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More