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Syria Government, Opponents Trade Blame Over Massive Blast

United Nations observers in Syria leave the UN office in Damascus, April 26, 2012.
United Nations observers in Syria leave the UN office in Damascus, April 26, 2012.

The Syrian government blamed "terrorists" Thursday for a massive explosion in the central city of Hama that killed at least 16 people as the tenuous cease-fire continues to unravel amid more violence and a rising death toll.

Both government and rebels traded blame over the blast that caused a huge fireball in a residential neighborhood on Wednesday. The state-run news agency said terrorists were setting up an explosive device when it detonated in the neighborhood.

Anti-government activists, however, blamed security forces for causing the incident, which they say was part of violence that claimed at least 27 lives across the country on Wednesday.

Thursday, the Syrian Revolution General Commission says seven people were killed in anti-government related violence. It says most of the deaths resulted from government shelling in the eastern region of Deir el-Zour.

The opposition Syrian National Council called for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting that would focus on protecting civilians in Syria. The group cited escalating attacks in Hama and other cities as reasons for the request.

Reported deaths in violence across Syria

The Associated Press says monitors on Thursday inspected the site of Wednesday's explosion in Hama. There was no immediate word on the outcome of their visit.

In another development, former Syrian Prime Minister Maarouf al-Dawalibi's son announced plans to form a government in exile. Nofal al-Dawalibi said the more prominent Syrian National Council had failed in its efforts to represent the Syrian people.

Over the coming months, the U.N. observer mission will expand from its current level of about a dozen monitors to about 300.  

But Carnegie Middle East Center Director Paul Salem says Syria's continued violence will make it clear to observers that the cease-fire brokered by envoy Kofi Annan is not being implemented.

"I think it will be clear to the monitors very soon that this cease-fire is certainly not holding in a significant and final way," Salem said.

Salem adds that the presence of more U.N. monitors may not be enough to curb violence.

"Syria is a very large country. The violence has moved from one location to another. It will be a challenge for the monitors to try to be in all places all the time. It's also the case, I think, that the government will claim that when violence does erupt, they will claim that it started from the rebels and they are just responding," Salem explained.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's crackdown on the uprising, while activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.

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by: MJ
April 30, 2012 11:10 AM
Martin, you are so right I am syrian an d I live in US, And Just came back from syria I spent Nov, Dec, and half of January there, and yes Syian people like not you , want the Goverment to step up and get red of these Thugs

by: Cha Cha Cohen
April 27, 2012 7:43 AM
Oppositions are lack of intelligence! Why their faces are covered? I have heard that they have infiltrated from Iraq & out side and they are paid heavily by the dumb trouble makers. God will surely punish them! Lets be honest and forward looking!Thanks to Kofi for being thoughtful!

by: BH
April 26, 2012 3:54 PM
Syria is without doubt facing up to a major conspiracy, and the media's biased reporting is greatly inflaming the situation. The greatest majority of Syrians do not want the country to become another Iraq or Lybia. The Syrian government is absolutely right in focusing on maintaining order first and before all. It will win because It has the backing of the Syrian majority.

by: Spongebob2007
April 26, 2012 3:49 PM
In answer to Sam, maybe to avoid losing 9000 more civilian lives?!? But since you didn't think about the lives lost you obviously only care about regime change in Syria. Do you have relatives in the UK police or military service? I wonder how you feel if the protestors killed them ...

by: Spongebob2007
April 26, 2012 3:39 PM
Let me guess, the Rebels are denying any involvement?! They were peacefully protesting when the goverment blew up the building in order to frame them. Does anybody really cared about the civilians here? The only way to accomplish this is for BOTH parties (assuming the Rebels are just one party!) putting down their weapons and begin talking to one other. With no pre-conditions or regime change demands as a pre-requisite!

by: Martin
April 26, 2012 2:24 PM
To that ignorant SOB. That thinks the world should let the Syrian government kill the people. (thugs) as he called it. He should go and take a vacation in Syria, and see what the truth really is.

by: MJ
April 26, 2012 9:26 AM
I think the UN needs to step away and let the syrian government get red of all these thugs and terrorists, enough is enough. I am sick of hearing about democracy, this is not the way for civil socaity. No one should have weapon but the regular army and the government if any one does not like that get the hell out of syria and go some where alse

by: Spongebob2007
April 26, 2012 8:56 AM
The solution is simple. The REBELS need to back-off on their pre-condition DEMANDS that all solutions are based on Assad and his Shiite goverment stepping down from power and relinquishing control of the country to them.

by: sam
April 26, 2012 6:25 AM
why da hell would they do that

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