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.
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.
Arab television channels are reporting that government ground forces have withdrawn from parts of the country to defend the capital, Damascus.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.