News / Middle East

Twin Bombings Kill Syrian Forces, Opposition Seeks Unity

VOA News
Two suicide bombers have detonated explosives near a Syrian military camp, as the country's fractured opposition grapples with plans to reorganize and unite.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 20 security force members were killed on Saturday when two bombs exploded minutes apart at a military facility in the southern city of Daraa. Syria's state-run media blamed "terrorists" and said the explosions also caused "huge material damage."

The unrest took place as opposition leaders held talks in Qatar on forming an inclusive government-in-waiting that would allow for more coordinated action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The Syrian National Council (SNC), the country's main opposition group, has been trying to keep its leading role. However, Western and Arab supporters of the Syrian opposition have called for a broader and more inclusive rebel coalition.

On Saturday, newly-elected SNC leader George Sabra pledged to work to unite the groups. The Associated Press reports he also urged the international community to support the opposition without conditions.  

Mr. Assad has been insisting that he still has the support of the Syrian people and army, even as violence rages on and reports have emerged that more of his military officers defected to Turkey.

On Friday, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said at least 26 military officers, including two generals and 11 colonels, had fled across the border.

U.N. officials say more than 11,000 Syrians have fled violence in Syria since Thursday, in one of the largest refugee exoduses since the 20-month civil war began.  

About 120,000 refugees are now believed to be in Turkey.

An estimated 36,000 people have died as the government crackdown against protesters developed into a full-blown civil war.

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