Explosions occurred as reports emerged that Saudi Arabia was preparing to deliver arms to Syrian rebels
Two car bombs struck intelligence and security buildings in the Syrian capital Damascus, killing at least 27 people and wounding about 140, according to state media.
Gruesome images of the scene were broadcast, with mangled and charred corpses, bloodstained streets and twisted steel.
“All our windows and doors are blown out,” said Majed Seibiyah, 29, who lives in the area. “I was sleeping when I heard a sound like an earthquake. I didn’t grasp what was happening until I heard screaming in the street.”
The explosions occurred as reports emerged in the Middle East – credited to diplomatic sources – that Saudi Arabia was preparing to deliver arms to Syrian rebels. Rebels have already reportedly received arms via Libya.
The blasts were the latest in a series of mysterious, large-scale attacks targeting the Syrian regime’s military and security installations. The previous blasts, all suicide bombings, have killed dozens of people since December, even as the regime wages a bloody crackdown against the year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
The government has blamed the explosions on “terrorists” that it claims are behind the revolt. The opposition has denied any role, saying they believe forces loyal to the government are behind the bombings in an attempt to tarnish the uprising.
But US intelligence officials have blamed al-Qaida in Iraq for the previous bombings.
The explosions came just two days after the first anniversary of the uprising, in which more than 8,000 people have been killed and about 230,000 forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.
They also coincided with a joint mission by the Syrian government, the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that was due to start assessing humanitarian needs in towns across Syria which have suffered from months of unrest.
One source involved in the mission said team members were still gathering in Syria and it was not immediately clear if they would begin their work this weekend as planned.
from Peter Beaumont