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Syria Blames al-Qaida for Double Car Bombings in Damascus

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Syrian government TV showed graphic images of burnt bodies and body parts from what it claims were two al-Qaida car bombs in front of the intelligence headquarters in the Damascus suburb of Kfar Sousa. Opposition figures, however, are claiming that the government perpetrated the bombings.

Syrian TV showed charred and dismembered bodies being carried from the wreckage of burnt-out vehicles Friday, in an upscale Damascus suburb. Many of the bodies were so badly disfigured that it was impossible to distinguish their identities.

Syrian officials who toured the site were quoted as saying that al-Qaida was responsible for the attacks. Syrian TV also claimed that a man involved in the bombings was captured.

A woman who gave her name as “Askeri”,  which means soldier, attempted to place the blame for the explosions on opposition activists, who are demanding more freedom:

She complains that innocent children are dying from such (explosions) and claims that they are the result of opposition demands for more freedom.

The explosions, which took place in front of two government security compounds, came less than 24 hours after an Arab League advance team of monitors arrived in Damascus. The team is to discuss where to deploy up to 500 observers to monitor violence against civilians.

Syria's Religious Affairs Minister Mohammed Abdel Sattar Sayyed complained that a nine month old popular uprising in the country was the result of a “foreign plot.”

He says that Syrians are moderate people, who reject extremism and terrorism coming from abroad. He insists that the UN and the Arab League bear partial responsibility for violence in Syria, and must examine events with a fair and impartial eye. He claims that Arab TV stations are broadcasting false news to provoke conflict.

Former Syrian Agriculture Minister Asa'ad Mustapha, who lives in exile in Kuwait, told Al Arabiya TV that he thought the Syrian government was behind the bombings, arguing that it is “impossible to capture someone who has already blown himself up.”

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, argues that the Syrian government's immediate finger-pointing at al Qaida appears implausible:

“The government was quick to say it arrested another would-be suicide bomber. Now, (the claim) is ridiculous. The government has arrested tens of thousands of activists and demonstrators and it is not really difficult for them to grab one of them and present them as a would-be suicide bomber whose attempt was foiled. Of course, there is something fishy,” Khashan said.

Khashan says that Syrian TV interviews with people who were on the scene appeared to have been staged, and all of them espoused the government's point of view.

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