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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs