News / Middle East

Angry Mourners Bury Damascus Bomb Victims

Men pray next to the coffins of people killed at security sites on Friday in two car bomb attacks, at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, December 24, 2011.
Men pray next to the coffins of people killed at security sites on Friday in two car bomb attacks, at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, December 24, 2011.

The Syrian government organized an elaborate funeral Saturday for victims of the bombings that killed more than 40 people in a Damascus suburb. Government media blame al-Qaida for the blasts, but opposition figures claim the government itself was responsible for the attack.

Syria's minister for religious affairs, Mohammed Abdel Sattar Sayyed, read the Islamic prayer for the dead for all victims of two powerful explosions that erupted Friday near government security compounds.

Syrian state TV broadcast the funeral at Damascus' historic Omayyid mosque, with Christian, Muslim and Druze religious leaders taking part. Massed coffins of the victims were draped in Syrian flags. Many relatives wept openly; others kept a stoic silence.

Sunni Muslim cleric Mohammed Ramadan al-Bouti told the gathering those who perpetrated the crimes are “enemies of God and of mankind.” He blamed the Syrian opposition and its top leader, Burhan Ghalioun, for the bombings, and warned mourners either to support the government or face further strife.

Since the uprising began months ago, al-Bouti said he has told everyone repeatedly that the protests are heading in the wrong direction, and urged support for the government. The alternative, he said, is that more sectarian strife and bloodshed, like Friday's devastating bombings, would occur.

In the streets outside the Omayyid Mosque, what appeared to be a government-organized procession chanted slogans of support for President Bashar al Assad, and against the United States, the Arab League and Qatar's leader, Sheikh Hamad bin Jabber al Thani.

Activists and many opposition leaders outside Syria say they believe the government was responsible for the deadly bombings. Opposition leader Ghalioun contends that Assad's government is trying to mislead the world about what is happening inside Syria.

He said the regime is trying to deceive the Syrian public, the Arab League and its observers. He criticized the Arab League for failing to press harder for U.N. Security Council action against Syria, and said the league is responsible for the blood of the Syrian people.

The Security Council has been unable to reach a consensus on the situation in Syria. It has before it a draft proposal from Russia that does little to compel the Syrian government to end its brutal crackdown.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, said one should not draw rapid conclusions about Friday's bombings in Damascus, but that some of the government's claims are suspicious.

Abou Diab said it is a strange coincidence that the terror attack occurred just after the arrival in Syria of a team of Arab League observers.  It also is odd, he said, that Lebanon's defense minister, a close ally of Syria, sounded a warning just before the bombings that al-Qaida fighters allegedly crossed secretly from Lebanon into Syria.

Abou Diab said everyone knows that border is closely watched. He noted that al-Qaida sent many militants from Syria into Iraq during the sectarian conflict there, so it is difficult to rule out the group's involvement in the Damascus attack. However, he stressed that Iran's ties to al-Qaida could suggest some sort of "manipulation” by parties aligned with the Syrian government.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid