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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid