News / Middle East

Syrian PM Survives Bomb Attack

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian fire fighters extinguishing burning cars after a car bomb exploded in the capital's western neighborhood of Mazzeh, in Damascus, Syria, April 29, 2013.
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian fire fighters extinguishing burning cars after a car bomb exploded in the capital's western neighborhood of Mazzeh, in Damascus, Syria, April 29, 2013.
Elizabeth Arrott
Syrian state media say Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi escaped unharmed from an assassination attempt Monday in Damascus.  The attack came as violence, especially sectarian-motivated, appeared on the rise across the region.

A bomb exploded as Halqi's convoy passed through the Mazzeh district, a normally well-fortified neighborhood, according to Syrian state media.  An interview of an unscathed Halqi was shown on state television later in the day. In his remarks, said to be made after the attempted assassination, he made no mention of the attack.

The strike follows other high-profile bombings in the capital, including at the interior ministry in December. Initial reports from state media said the interior minister was not hurt in that attack, reports that later proved untrue.

Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, says Monday's bombing is not likely to change the equation overall despite the bomb hitting at the heart of the Syrian capital.

“The situation seems open to a long and unfortunately very bloody, devastating stalemate between the regime - which is not about to be defeated, but cannot win also - and the rebel groups which are very disunited, but at the same time have taken large control of parts of the country," said Salem.  "They are not going to be defeated either.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's bombing.

  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian fire fighters extinguishing burning cars after a car bomb exploded near the prime minister's convoy in Mazzeh, Damascus, April 29, 2013.
  • This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows burning cars after a car bomb exploded in Mazzeh, Damascus, April 29, 2013.
  • A man holding a water cooler runs to avoid a sniper in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood, April 28, 2013.
  • A view of a street filled with rubble and damaged buildings in Aleppo's Salaheddine neighborhood, April 28, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters take up firing positions in the Khan al-Assal area, near Aleppo, April 27, 2013.


Previous such attacks have been linked to the jihadist al-Nusra Front, part of the armed, mainly Sunni opposition seeking to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad, whose inner circle is dominated by members of the Shi'ite offshoot Alawite sect.

The increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict, which began two years ago as peaceful anti-government protests, was alluded to by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of neighboring Iraq on Saturday.  

In a televised address, Maliki warned of spreading sectarianism, referring to it as an “evil” moving from one country to another.  He added there is a “wind behind it, and money and plans,” though he did not indicate who might be fomenting the strife.
 
Sectarian violence continued Monday across Iraq, with at least five deadly bombings in predominantly Shi'ite areas. The country has been rocked by numerous bombings in recent weeks.

The Carnegie Center's Salem said religion-based violence is a problem for the whole region, but there are elements specific to Iraq for which Maliki is responsible.  

"Instead of consolidating national unity and reinforcing it, the Maliki government and Maliki himself moved against some leading Sunni politicians and immediately the level of sectarian tensions escalated,” he added.

But Salem argues that the violence is linked, adding that Iraq's Sunni opposition is increasingly mobilized by the fact that Sunnis in Syria are also fighting a non-Sunni leader.  

Salem also points to the geographic ties between eastern Syria and western Iraq, and in a more deadly link, to the transnational nature of such extremist Sunni groups as al-Qaida.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail 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.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

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