News / Middle East

    Explosions in Damascus Kill At Least 34

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens stand near a burning truck that was destroyed by two cars bombs in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, November 28, 2012.
    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens stand near a burning truck that was destroyed by two cars bombs in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, November 28, 2012.
    Edward Yeranian
    Twin car bombs Wednesday ripped through a suburb of Syria's capital populated mostly by Christians and Druze, killing at least 34 people.
     
    Syrian state television showed firefighters hosing down the burning wreckage of several vehicles and nearby buildings after two car bombs exploded in the main square of Jaramana, outside Damascus.
     
    One unidentified witness said the explosions came in succession. He said a car filled with explosives blew up before a second explosion occurred near a school.
     
    State media accused “terrorists,” the government's term for opposition forces. But several top opposition figures said that the government was behind the attacks.

    • A crowd gathers at the site of a blast in Jaramana district, near Damascus, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA, November 28, 2012.
    • The site of a blast in Jaramana district, near Damascus, is seen in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA, November 28, 2012.
    • A man wounded in the explosions in Jaramana district, near Damascus, receives treatment at a hospital, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA, November 28, 2012.
    • A crowd gathers at the site of a blast in Jaramana district, near Damascus, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA, November 28, 2012.
    • A crowd gathers at a site of a blast in Jaramana district, near Damascus, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA, November 28, 2012.
    • Residents and Free Syrian Army fighters are seen near damaged tents for Syrian refugees after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on the outskirts of Idlib, near the Syrian-Turkey border, November 26, 2012.
    • Residents pose near damaged wheat sacks after Syrian Air Force fighter jets fired missiles at the town of Ras al-Ain, Syria, November 26, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters are seen in Daria near Damascus, Syria, November 25, 2012.

    Air attacks continue
     
    Elsewhere, Syrian forces continued to pound rebels from the air.
     
    Video posted on the Internet and aired by pan-Arab television channels showed smoke over the city of Homs after what was said to be bombing by government warplanes.
     
    State television reports said government forces “destroyed hideouts of armed terrorists" in two Homs districts.
     
    Opposition groups also posted video on the Internet claiming to show a downed warplane and captured pilots in the northern province of Aleppo. The video showed rebel medics appearing to treat the pilots.
     
    The video cannot be independently verified. The rebels have come under Western criticism for executing some government captives in recent months.
     
    Damascus fighting
     
    Arab television channels are reporting that government ground forces have withdrawn from parts of the country to defend the capital, Damascus.
     
    Government forces have reportedly lost control of some outer suburbs as well as southern areas of Damascus in recent weeks.
     
    Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, said that Syrian rebels have captured a number of positions along the Jordanian border in the past several days. He said a battle for the capital may be drawing near.
     
    "The [Free Syrian Army rebels] overran an important headquarters and they now control four checkpoints on the border with Jordan," he said. "When the battle for Damascus begins, you'll find a major thrust of fighters from northern Jordan into Syria to take part in the battle for Damascus.
     
    "So, it seems that this is beginning to happen, because the FSA is focusing on the Jordanian border,” he said.
     
    Also Wednesday, NATO officials visited neighboring Turkey, scouting out possible sites for a missile defense system.
     
    Turkey has asked NATO to deploy the Patriot interceptor missiles to help protect towns near the Syrian border.
     
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says violence across Syria has killed more than 40,000 people since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March of last year.
     
    VOA's Jeff Seldin contributed to this report from Washington.

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    Comments
         
    by: John Hickman from: Georgia
    November 28, 2012 10:54 AM
    Why is VOA challenging the description of non-state actors who detonate bombs targeting civilian neighborhoods, populated by members of religious minorities at that, as terrorists? If a similar outrage happened anywhere else in the world what would the perpetrators be called? Would it dare describe such an event in the U.S. or the U.K. as the work of "rebels" and "opposition forces"?

    by: Anonymous
    November 28, 2012 9:35 AM
    The rebels are behaving like terrorists, what a surprise. We should oppose these terrorists rather than support them building an Islamic state in Syria.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    December 01, 2012 9:30 AM
    We are witnessing the birth of an Islamic state.
    In Response

    by: M Dizzle from: USA
    November 28, 2012 11:13 AM
    Americans were all terrorists at one time. Terrorism freed our country from Britain, calling it a revolution does not diminish the actuality of what happened on the ground.

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