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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid