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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
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.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

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