DAMASCUS: A Syrian opposition leader said today the regime is trying to destroy a UN-brokered peace plan for the country. The accusations came as security forces fanned out following twin suicide car bombings that killed 55 people in Damascus.
The bombings fuelled fears of a rising Islamic militant element among those seeking to oust President Bashar Assad and dealt a further blow to international efforts to end the bloodshed. Assad’s government blamed the blasts on armed terrorists it says are driving the uprising. During a news conference in Tokyo, Burhan Ghalioun, chief of the opposition Syrian National Council, said there would be no peaceful solution to the violence in Syria without ‘a threat of force against those who don’t implement the plan’. “Assad feels that he can run away from implementing all of his obligations without any consequences,” Ghalioun said.
In Damascus, workers were paving over two massive craters caused by the bombs that struck a Syrian military compound yesterday. The attack, which also wounded more than 370 people, was the deadliest against a regime target since the Syrian uprising began 14 months ago. Security forces armed with Kalashnikov rifles were guarding the compound today.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but a shadowy militant group calling itself the Al-Nusra Front has claimed past attacks through statements on militant websites. Little is known about the group, although Western intelligence officials say it could be a front for al-Qaida’s Iraq branch.
The blast was the largest and most deadly yet in a series of bombings targeting state security buildings since last December. Most of these have been in Aleppo and Damascus, Syria’s two largest cities, which have generally stood by Assad since the uprising against his rule broke out in March 2011. Ghalioun suggested the regime was somehow behind the blasts as a way to taint the uprising. “The relationship between the Syrian regime and al-Qaida is very strong,” he said.
The rebel Free Syrian Army also condemned the attacks and blamed the regime for staging them as a way to bolster its claims that terrorists are behind the uprising against Assad.
Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja’afari told the Security Council yesterday that 12 ‘foreign terrorists’, including a French, Briton and a Belgian have been killed in Syria. Ja’afari added that he has a list of 26 names for ‘terrorists of which some are linked al-Qaida’.